Institutional Reform and Democratic Strengthening


Navacerrada (Madrid), 06.07.12.- The rector of Rey Juan Carlos University, *Pedro González-Trevijano, has pronounced the conference ‘Institutional Reform and Democratic Strengthening’ at the Constitutional Policy Course of the FAES Campus. His lecture was chaired by the director of La Razón, Francisco Marhuenda.

Pedro González-Trevijano:

“Let’s make a bid to preserve institutions: only people who want to commit suicide question them every now and then”.

“It’s genuinely dangerous to question institutions in the lee of misunderstood and distorted direct or semi-representative democracies, representing who knows who and doing so in a much weaker manner that what their advocators try to convince us of”.

“Even though we are enduring an extraordinarily serious financial crisis, I’m worried about two other crises: of values and the institutional one, which over time has lost the legitimacy of practice, especially as a result of certain acts of the public powers, not always accepted, prone to be criticised and which in many occasions do not satisfy the true concerns of citizens”.

“We have endured the worst expression of particracy and though representative democracy has no alternative, it has gone beyond the established channels of political representation”.

“We must respect the Law and the Constitution: not because the Constitution says so, but rather because if we don’t respect the Law and if judicial decisions are not met, it’s not possible to build a modern State, a Rule of Law that satisfies the citizen aspiration to security, freedom and justice”.

“The Constitutional Court would need to make two very important reforms: recovering the previous appeal of unconstitutionality, at least regarding processes of structural or statutory autonomy reform and with a maximum validity date; and another one regarding the amparo appeal. Nearly everything affecting the amparo appeal should not be submitted to the Constitutional Court, but to a special hall of the Supreme Court, save those regarding fundamental rights arising from presumably unconstitutional laws”.

“Other possible reforms are the number of judges of the Constitutional Court, their renewal and the selection process. Twelve judges is a number that’s quantitatively reasonable but qualitatively perverse, because in the end, and in the case of a division in two blocks, it puts the president in a difficult situation. Being a judge for nine years is reasonable. I support the selection process, as from the point of view of institutional politics and representative democracy, it’s the most objective system, the most institutionalised and the most democratic one”.

“Having a Constitutional Court is necessary, a court that’s irreversible and settled in the Spanish constitutional structure; and with extremely important and relevant functions, like the definition of constitutionality and the unconstitutionality of laws and the resolution of capacity conflicts between the State and the Autonomous Communities”.

“The legislation capacity of the Parliament has become affected as a consequence of the hypertrophy of urgency legislation and decree-laws, which are over-used. The Parliament has also lost its good profile and dictating so many laws has reduced moments of reflection and debate, making the commission the sole referent of legislative action and not listening to the collectives affected by the passing of certain laws”.

“On the eternal crisis of parliamentary power, intrinsic to the institution itself, in Spain we have a rationalised, bureaucratised and hyper-disciplined Parliament. This model of regime makes parliamentary groups the real actors of political life and the role of parliamentarians, superfluous and much weakened and always subordinated to the groups’ political decisions and intentions”.

“I believe in the validity of the principles defining the political Transition. One must only look at Spain’s history to see the advantages of monarchy before a republic. Nevertheless, some reforms are necessary as long as they’re made along with some other structural State reforms, also liable to be submitted to a constituent referendum and at a moment in which one knows what to reform, its formulation and it if expressly comprises the hereditary nature of the Chief of State”.