The Council of Ministers presented the draft reform of Articles 71.3 and 102.2 of the Spanish Constitution with the aim of abolishing privileges for Members of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament and cabinet ministers in the event of committing a criminal offence outside of the exercise of their position.
The reform establishes that those privileges provided for in the Constitution will only be applicable to those criminal offences committed in the direct exercise of their duties during their term of office.
The draft bill must be submitted to consultation by the General Council of the Judiciary, which will have one month to give its opinion, and will then be presented to Parliament before the end of 2018.
The Vice-President of the Government, Minister for the Presidency, Parliamentary Relations and Equality, Carmen Calvo, stated that the government will assign a one-year deadline to incorporate any legal amendments to allow this reform to come into force.
Carmen Calvo recalled that the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, announced the reform on 17 September, coinciding with his first 100 days in office, and that the Council of Ministers, on 21 September initiated the procedure and asked for an opinion from the Council of State. This advisory body issued a positive report backing the proposal on 15 November.
The Vice-President of the Government stated that whilst this is a minor reform it is important from a political perspective because it limits “public office to the strict exercise of duties”, and prevents privilege being invoked during a “temporary mandate”.
Carmen Calvo added that the draft constitutional reform falls under the concept of democratic regeneration and of enhancing public confidence in the strength of institutions and in the “extraordinary maturity of our constitutional model”. She also said that it brings the regulation of the figure of privilege in Spain on a similar level to other European countries such as France and Italy.
Carmen Calvo announced that the President of the Government will begin a round of contacts with the spokespersons of the parliamentary groups to seek support for the reform before its passage through Parliament.