Spain has 5,320 judges and some 2,550 prosecutors. For each of them to have reached that position, they have had to go through the opposition filter, one of the most demanding and that requires the most time and financial investment. In fact, most opponents speak of the need to dedicate eight to ten hours of study per day for six days a week, in addition to attending the so-called sing with their trainers, which makes it practically impossible for students to support themselves during that time with a salary that comes from a job.
This context highlights the differences between the opponents, as they must rely on the full support of their families during those years. And here the opposition system reveals its seams. Opponents pay their preparers from 120 to 300 euros per month for an average of four or five years, to which must be added the cost of books and travel in some cases.
Preparers always recommend dedicating all your time to the opposition and not trying to combine study with a job. In addition, it is very difficult to pass the opposition without having one of these mentors: judges and prosecutors who guide the student, prepare study plans and evaluate them periodically. For example, just one in four (23%) of the judges who are currently trainees had worked before passing the opposition, according to a survey by the General Council of the Judiciary.
Pablo spent five years studying. He started in 2000 after finishing his law degree “without any effort”, as he himself claims. After an internship in the courts of Madrid and being dazzled by the “judicial paraphernalia”, he decided to launch himself into a judicial career from his parents’ home in Teruel.
In her case, she attended classes with a trainer 140 kilometers from her home, in Valencia, twice a week, a journey of about five hours between roundtrip to to sing your topics for 30 minutes. 17,000 pesetas at the beginning, which later went to 120 euros per month of which he never saw an invoice or receipt. He remembers studying for about ten hours a day, watching life go by through his bedroom window. He relates it as a kind of Stockholm syndrome: the system of choice is so complicated that routine, which sometimes leads to health problems, becomes “comfortable.” “It is absolutely incompatible to oppose having a job for someone else with minimal clean remuneration, “he assures. His family situation was not extreme, with two official parents. And he acknowledges that” without their support, especially financial support, it would have been completely unviable. ”
Despite having two very good years, in which he was close to passing, he saw no future: “You see that the effort does not pay results, that you are living off your parents and anything that involves leaving school is your fault. that situation until the age of 35 “, so he finally left the judiciary to quickly get another public position after eight months as it was a more affordable opposition.
The ex-opponent is blunt: “There is no social elevator here. Quite often, it is thought that getting it out is just making a titanic effort. And yes, you have to do it, but you don’t get to the square without a support behind you.” In the same way, he emphasizes that there were important differences depending on the economic and social position of the students: “Whoever has time can prepare, and whoever has time is because they have money. There were people who knew that, if things were going badly for them, no nothing was going to happen. Being a ‘son of’ helps. “
For him, the current opposition system “generates a brutal inbreeding, and sagas and lineages are perpetuated.” “The class and economic bias are circumstances of this type, which is always coupled with an ideological one,” he maintains. And thus he affirms that this situation directly affects the orientation of the organs of the Judicial Power: “They are completely turned to the right.”
The situation now is not much better. Sara has been studying the opposition for three years, the first two with a trainer from an investigating court in Toledo. This judge, already in the first meeting, warned his new student of the optimal circumstances for the study: “He told me that you had to have a ‘sustainable economy’, that my parents were going to have to support me for many years.”
At first this was not a problem for this law graduate. However, with the passage of time, the family finances suffered: “Money was needed in my house, so I started working while I was studying.” She got second-hand books, but, despite her vocation –and having a lawyer father–, the situation forced her to partially put aside the opposition in order to earn some money: “First I started working at Seguros Santa Lucía as collector and then at Leroy Merlin on the weekends because it was the only way to keep going. “
It was at this last job that she was offered a permanent contract, which she was forced to turn down in order to focus on studying. A decision that he had to make with his parents, since he was relying on them again, and which other opponents have faced with different results due to the precarious context. “Many people I knew have been stuck because they have been hired for many years to want to earn money. You are entering a birria killing yourself at work,” says Sara.
The expenses of preparing the opposition to the judiciary are high, explains this young woman. To what the family must invest in their maintenance, 150 euros per month are added, at least, in the case of having a preparer, which amounts to 300 if they go to an academy or have some of the most sought-after preparers : “I do not want that money to be going to something for which I can already use myself. There comes a time when all it does is listen to you,” he highlights. Refers to those known as sing: the opponents come to recite the topics in front of the coach, as they will if they reach the last phase of the opposition, so that he evaluates and corrects. Sara ended up leaving her coach and now studies on her own.
To these expenses are added those of the books, which amount to between 600 and 700 euros if they are new. A burden that not everyone can afford: “Many colleagues have not been able to handle it and have had to settle for a lower opposition because it is much more affordable.” Asked about the ideological bias, Sara declares herself apolitical, although she points out that the people she has encountered “tend to be more conservative, with a much higher standard of living, richer than simpler people, who live a normal and ordinary life. “.
“The last time I performed, my brother came with me,” says Brais, who came to perform five times in a row between 1999 and 2005. “When I left the room, with insufficient exposure, my brother told me: ‘You couldn’t have approved ever. All the people here have a godfather and you come only with what you know, ‘”he says. When this ex-opponent spoke with colleagues in the corridors of the Supreme Court, waiting to enter the exam, “his soul fell to his feet,” he says in his own words. He felt unprotected in front of a group of students who seemed very well connected: “You heard them say ‘My father has spoken with I don’t know who, mine was president of the Provincial Court in that place and he was secretary, we know him … ‘”.
He decided to start with a coach who asked for “the will”, although it was never less than 50 euros per class, twice a week and never gave him a receipt. With a dedication of ten hours a day, it was impossible to bring a salary home: “During those six years you live with your parents, in a family that has nothing to spare.” In his case, he chose to try “not to generate any expense” and try to help in what he could: “Sweep, scrub, wash clothes … In the end you feel like a parasite.” A problem that training colleagues and other possible future judges did not have to face “because they had a more affluent family with a legal tradition.” “They took less time to remove the opposition and had other study routines,” he recalls. However, he felt “on the verge of insanity, of being a social misfit,” since his entire life revolved around the judiciary.
Despite the effort, the hours invested and the optimism of the beginning, as time passed, the goal seemed more distant: “I was more and more aware. When I went to the exam and saw the court, I would start singing and I had the feeling that none of them were listening to me. ” “It seemed that when they read my name they understood that I was nobody,” he says. In his opinion, it was something totally different from what happened with others. “I am not saying that it is hereditary, but your grandfather is a judge, your father is a judge and he or she is also going to be hereditary. When the approved ones were already out, there were surnames that were always repeated.”
Anecdotally, he recalls a pair of brothers with whom he met for two years, children of an “important judge.” Both passed with a difference course and, in conversations with them, they made clear their security about taking the square: “I told them that they saw life very different from me. My father drives buses, his gives sentences.”
From his point of view, class bias is a reality: “It is undeniable that most of the people who approve of the judiciary, due to their social status, are of a conservative court. If your grandfather was a notary, judge or commercial broker in the fifties will obviously not be leftist or socialist. ” And although he assures that the principles of merit and capacity are increasingly recognized in the judiciary, which implies the entry of people from all over the social spectrum, he denounces that the upper echelons are still occupied by conservative sectors: “It is something systematic. As the career of a judge is very long, it takes a long time to change the trend. Before, you could choose who you wanted, without anyone asking for explanations. “
* Names have been altered at the source’s own request.