Enrique Múgica

Enrique Múgica Herzog (20 February 1932 – 10 April 2020) was a Spanish lawyer and politician.

Enrique Múgica
Enrique Múgica en la rueda de prensa posterior al Consejo de Ministros.jpg
Ombudsman of Spain
In office
15 June 2000 – 30 June 2010
MonarchJuan Carlos I
Preceded byAntonio Rovira Viñas
Succeeded byMaría Luisa Cava de Llano y Carrió
Minister of Justice
In office
12 July 1988 – 12 March 1991
MonarchJuan Carlos I
Prime MinisterFelipe González
Preceded byFernando Ledesma Bartret
Succeeded byTomás de la Quadra-Salcedo
Member of the Congress of Deputies
In office
Personal details
Enrique Múgica Herzog

(1932-02-20)20 February 1932
San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spanish Republic
Died10 April 2020(2020-04-10) (aged 88)
Political partyPSOE

An opponent of Francoist Spain, he spent three years in prison. He was one of the leaders of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), in Franco's time. He managed the establishment of diplomatic relations between Spain and Israel. He was a member of the PSOE, Justice Minister (1988–1991), congressman (representing Gipuzkoa 1977–2000) and Ombudsman (2000–2010).[1]

He was born in San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa. His father was a Basque violinist who was killed during the Civil War[2] and his mother was a Frenchwoman of Polish Jewish origin.[3] His brother Fernando was murdered by ETA in February 1996.[4]

Enrique Múgica died on 10 April 2020 from COVID-19.[5]


Despite allegedly not being a communist,[6] his opposition to the Francoist system led Múgica to join the outlawed PCE in 1953, where he remained for a decade.[7] In February 1956 Múgica, Javier Pradera and Ramón Tamames wrote a manifesto calling to a National Universitary Congress not subjected to the authority of SEU, Falange's student union. This led to the first public universitary protest against the Francoist regime, and following a clash with Falangist activists they were arrested along with other opposing figures. This incident led to the destitution of Education Minister Joaquín Ruiz-Giménez, the decline of SEU which was sidelined from the Youth Front for losing the grip on the student body, and the start of the organized universitary protest movement. For his actions Múgica was imprisoned for three months in Carabanchel Prison.[8][9]

Transition to democracy and first PSOE governmentEdit

In the first democratic elections Múgica was elected as a deputy for PSOE in the Congress, where he would serve for the next 23 years. In the late 1970s he additionally served as PSOE's Secretary for Political Relations. In 1980 he and Joan Reventós met general Alfonso Armada in a lunch organized by Lleida's mayor Antonio Ciurana. According to Múgica, Armada was "deeply worried" about the autonomous system and terrorism and asked them for an UCD–PSOE coalition led by an independent figure but didn't propose himself nor anyone else from the military for such role.[10] Months later Armada took part in the 1981 attempted coup d'état.[11]

In 2009 former Catalan President Jordi Pujol claimed in the second volume of his memories that in 1980 Múgica had proposed to him to have Prime Minister Adolfo Suárez replaced by a democratically-leaning military. Múgica denied such claim as a "made up fancy".[12] Commanding officer involved in the coup Ricardo Pardo Zancada recognized in his book that Armada contemplated Múgica as Minister of Health in the hypothetical government that emerged from the coup.[13]

In 1979 he was a founding executive of the Amistad España–Israel association,[14] and he and his brother Fernando had a leading role in convincing Felipe González to establish diplomatic relations with Israel and managing the process, which was finally sealed in 1986. Múgica was highly attached to Israel and as a Jew he felt proud to be "part of a people always in search of freedom and wisdom",[15] listing Spain, the Basque Country and Israel as his "three loves".[16]

Justice MinisterEdit

Múgica was the first Jew to take part in the Spanish government since the Inquisition. Under his tenure the law regulating anonymous societies and demarcation and judicial plan were approved, and the penal reforms leading to the creation of the Juzgados de lo Penal were carried out.[17][18]

He harshly opposed the insubordinate movement against the then compulsory military service, admonishing them that the full weight of law would fall on them for "using conscientious objection to destabilize the democratic state and being supported by radicals and violent [elements]".[19]

In September 1990 he was questioned in the Congress of Deputies by Loyola de Palacio for allegedly replying to Cristina Alberdi's petition to increase the female representation in the General Council of the Judiciary as quoted: "Have they installed kitchens in the new offices?". Múgica apologized to those offended while defending his comment as a joke, which De Palacio harshly criticized.[20]

He was dismissed in March 1991 along with several other ministers. His meeting with González was reported in the press to have been the most difficult of the round as he had expected to receive a different portfolio and his expression was of "disbelief mixed with anger" after realizing he would not.[21]


Múgica left PSOE in 2000 after being chosen as Spain's ombudsman. He was the first ombudsman to serve for two terms, extending his service until 2010.[22][23][24]

He favored restoring formal address in schools in order to improve the classroom environment, arguing that students addressing teachers as usted instead of doesn't imply a "breach" in their relation but "mutual respect".[25]

He supported the 2010 Abortion Law except for the clause allowing girls between the age of 16 – 18 to abort without the knowledge or authorisation of their parents, and expressed that he didn't "give a damn about being excommunicated or not" for it.[26]

Political controversiesEdit

During his ten-year service Múgica remained outspoken in political matters. In 2004, he defended the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier by the Government of Israel, arguing that it was Palestinian terrorism that "legitimized the fence", which generated great controversy due to the position he held.[27]

Likewise, it should be noted: his controversy with the anti-bullfighting movement,[28] his disapproval of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia (against which he filed an appeal of unconstitutionality) in 2006[29], his statements against the Historical Memory Law[30], his refusal to appeal the Aliens Act of 2000 (which the Constitutional Court would later amend) or opposition to contacts between the government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and ETA.[31]


  1. ^ "Enrique Múgica Herzog". Sitio Web del Defensor del Pueblo (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 12 April 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Múgica Herzog, Enrique". Auñamendi Eusko Entziklopedia (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  3. ^ Alonso, Mariano (14 January 2014). "Enrique Múgica: "No supe que era judío hasta los 14 ó 15 años"". Libertad Digital (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  4. ^ Barbería, Jose Luis; Intxausti, Aurora (7 February 1996). "ETA mata de un tiro en la nuca a Fernando Múgica". El País (in Spanish). Prisa. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  5. ^ "Muere Enrique Múgica, ex ministro de Justicia y Defensor del Pueblo". La Razón (in Spanish). 11 April 2020. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  6. ^ Enrique Múgica, la soledad del corredor de fondo. El País, 11 April 2020
  7. ^ Fallece Enrique Múgica Herzog, ex ministro de Justicia y Defensor del Pueblo, a los 88 años de edad. La Vanguardia, 11 April 2020
  8. ^ Toda España era una cárcel. Por Rodolfo Serrano y Daniel Serrano (VI). Punto Crítico, 16 April 2017
  9. ^ Prisión de Carabanchel: un pasado en blanco y negro El País, 19 November 1998
  10. ^ Prieto, Joaquín (13 March 1981). "Enrique Mugica: "En mi entrevista con Armada no se mencionó el nombre de ningún militar como jefe de Gobierno"". El País (in Spanish). Prisa. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  11. ^ Prieto, Joaquín (3 December 2013). "Alfonso Armada, one of the leaders of the failed 1981 coup". elpais.com (online ed.). Madrid: PRISA. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Múgica califica de "ocurrencia inventada" que propusiese a Pujol sustituir a Adolfo Suárez por un militar". Europa Press (in Spanish). 6 October 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Los ministros de izquierdas que Armada llevaba en su guerrera". La Gaceta. 22 February 2016. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  14. ^ Danielle Rozenberg, La España contemporánea y la cuestión judía: retejiendo los hilos de la memoria y de la historia, p. 312
  15. ^ "The Basque Jew, Catalan King and Shoemaker's Adviser". Haaretz. Retrieved 12 April 2020., 12 November 2007
  16. ^ "Minister in Spanish Government First Jew Since Inquisition'". Jewish Telegraph Agency. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  17. ^ Ley Orgánica 7/1988, de 28 de diciembre, de los Juzgados de lo Penal, y por la que se modifican diversos preceptos de las Leyes Orgánica del Poder Judicial y de Enjuiciamiento Criminal. Boletín Oficial del Estado.
  18. ^ Fallece por coronavirus el exministro de Justicia y exDefensor del Pueblo, Enrique Múgica (in Spanish)
  19. ^ Rojo, Alfonso (10 April 2020). "Múgica, testigo de un PSOE que pasó a la historia". La Razón (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  20. ^ Alfaro, Emilio (27 September 1990). "Múgica entona el 'mea culpa' en el Congreso por su comentario machista". El País (in Spanish). Prisa. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  21. ^ Historia de una crisis. El País, 12 March 1991
  22. ^ Enrique Múgica será reelegido defensor del pueblo hasta 2010. El País, 27 May 2005
  23. ^ El Congreso reelige a Enrique Múgica como Defensor del Pueblo tras el acuerdo alcanzado entre PSOE y PP El Mundo, 28 June 2005
  24. ^ Múgica cesa como Defensor del Pueblo al expirar su mandatoRTVE, 30 June 2010
  25. ^ El Defensor del Pueblo propone erradicar el tuteo en las aulas para acabar con la violencia escolar. El País, 25 June 2007
  26. ^ Múgica: "Me importa tres cominos que me excomulguen". La Vanguardia, 25 November 2009
  27. ^ "El Defensor del Pueblo defiende el muro de Cisjordania". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). 2 March 2004. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  28. ^ "Parlamentarios en defensa de los animales piden la comparecencia de Múgica por llamar "tontos" a los antitaurinos". Europapress (in Spanish). 16 December 2008. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  29. ^ Europa Press (19 September 2006). "El Defensor del Pueblo recurre el Estatut catalán ante el Tribunal Constitucional". El Mundo (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  30. ^ "Múgica avisa del riesgo de que utilicen la ley «los manipuladores de la discordia»". ABC (in Spanish). Vocento. 31 July 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  31. ^ En la muerte de Enrique Múgica: un hombre clave en la dispersión de los presos de ETA ABC.es, 12 April 2020
Preceded by
Fernando Ledesma Bartret
Ministry of Justice of Spain
Succeeded by
Tomás de la Quadra-Salcedo
Preceded by
Fernando Álvarez de Miranda
Defensor del Pueblo (Ombudsman)
Succeeded by
María Luisa Cava de Llano y Carrió