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Spain’s Judiciary Crisis


Tough luck if you are getting divorced in Mallorca and were planning of having the acrimonious dispute settled in court today, once and for ever. Today this will not be possible. Judges in Mallorca will be on strike today, February 18th. A minimum of judicial services will be maintained, I hear, but don’t trust that minimum to include your very own legal dealings.

This is a new venture. There was a go-slow disruptive action, held by the administrative staff of Palma’s legal and courtroom workers a few weeks ago, but now it is the judges and magistrates that call to action. Apparently, a public airing of the judges’ indignation will be held today at 12h00, outside the TSJB (balearic Supreme Courts), in Carrer Unió.

The problem is not restricted to Mallorca, though. All of Spain’s judges will go on strike for an indefinite period from June 26th, up and down the country. The problem seems to be that the Spanish legal and court system are in need of an overhaul. Apparently, such a systemic renovation had been agreed upon in a legal directive in 2003 (the Ley Orgánica del Poder Judicial), which appears however to not have been implemented yet.

If I understand the problem correctly, there seems to be a clash with its roots embedded in the particular political history that Spain has gone through in the last 80 years. King Alfonso XIII abdicated in 1931. The Second Republic was democratically established between 1931 and 1936, but was overthrown by a military putsch under you know who. The Civil War atrocities followed until 1939, to be prolonged by an iron fisted dictatorship under Francisco Franco, lasting until 1975. Upon Franco’s death, Juan Carlos I was proclaimed as King of Spain, albeit under a parliamentary system. Spain was given a new constitution in 1978 and thus, joined the community of democratic societies. But the judicial system lagged behind and is still subject to what is called the Transición. In everyday reality, Spain is still affected today by the aftermath of the long years of its darkest period, the Franco years. The Church in Spain still fights tooth and nail for its erstwhile influence. Congress and Senate in Madrid are still in their infancy, and Spain’s legal system finds itself between a rock and a hard place. No wonder a huelga is called.

Stay tuned.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 17th, 2009. The time was 11:12:23.

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