Margarita Robles

María Margarita Robles Fernández (León, November 10, 1956) is a Spanish judge and politician, currently serving as Minister of Defence since June 2018. From November 2019 to January 2020, she served as Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Margarita Robles

Margarita Robles 2020 (cropped).jpg
Minister of Defence
Assumed office
7 June 2018
MonarchFelipe VI
Prime MinisterPedro Sánchez
Preceded byMaría Dolores de Cospedal
Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation
In office
30 November 2019 – 13 January 2020
MonarchFelipe VI
Prime MinisterPedro Sánchez
Preceded byJosep Borrell
Succeeded byArancha González Laya
Leader of the Socialist Group in the Congress of Deputies
In office
19 June 2017 – 7 June 2018
Preceded byJosé Luis Ábalos
Succeeded byAdriana Lastra
Magistrate of the Supreme Court
In office
Member of the Congress of Deputies
Assumed office
21 May 2019
In office
19 April 2016 – 15 June 2018
Personal details
Born (1956-11-10) November 10, 1956 (age 63)
León, Spain
Political partyIndependent
Alma materUniversity of Barcelona
OccupationJudge, politician
AwardsGrand Cross of the Order of St. Raymond Penyafort

She was the first woman ever to chair a contentious-administrative chamber, the first to ever preside a provincial court (Barcelona's) and the first woman to reach the Supreme Court of Spain. She has also held the positions of Secretary of State for Security during the González Governments.

From May 2004 until May 2016 she was a Justice at the Supreme Court, in the third Chamber. She was a member of the General Council of the Judiciary from September 2008 until December 2013 on the proposal of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party. she belongs to the progressive judge association Judges for Democracy.

In May 2016 she was elected to the Congress of Deputies for the PSOE representing Madrid.

Early life and educationEdit

Robles was born in 1956 in León, the daughter of a lawyer and housewife, she undertook her primary education in the Teresian Carmelites school. At the age of 12, her family moved to Barcelona, where she graduated in Law at the University of Barcelona.[1] Her younger brother is a doctor.

Early judicial careerEdit

In 1981, at age 25, Robles entered the Judiciary, after completing her training at the Judiciary School, first of her class, and became the fourth women judge in Spain.[2]

At age 26 she took her first assignment as Judge of First Instance and Inquiry of Balaguer, later she was assigned to Sant Feliu de Llobregat and Bilbao. She was the first women ever to chair a contentious-administrative chamber.[3]

She was a Justice at the Audiencia Provincial of Barcelona, becoming its Chief Justice at age 34, and becoming the first woman to be the chief justice of an Audiencia Provincial.[4]

Early political careerEdit

Close to the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party in 1993 she was appointed Under Secretary of the Ministry of Justice under Juan Alberto Belloch. On her inauguration she established as her top priority to implement fast trials in Spain.

Between 1994 and 1996, during the last government of Felipe González, Robles served as the first Secretary of State for the Interior, becoming the de facto second-in-command of the superministry of Justice and the Interior, also under Belloch.

During her time as Secretary of State for the Interior, Robles promoted the investigation of the kidnapping and murder of José Antonio Lasa and José Ignacio Zabala, she withdrew the funds from the GAL dirty war for José Amedo and Michel Domínguez and she ordered the search and capture of Luis Roldán.

Back to the judiciaryEdit

After Gonzalez lost the 1996 General Elections, Robles returned to the judiciary and became a justice at the contentious-administrative chamber of the Audiencia Nacional. In 2004, she was appointed Justice of the third chamber of the Supreme Court, becoming the fourth woman ever to be appointed to the highest court.

In September 2008 she was elected member of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), being considered of one of its most active members. She served as such until December 2013. During her term as such, she supported the removal from office of the President of the General Council of the Judiciary and President of the Supreme Court, Carlos Dívar.[5]

Garzón caseEdit

In March 2010, Margarita Robles, along with conservatives Fernando de Rosa Torner and Gemma Gallego Sánchez, were challenged as members by the judge of the National Court, Baltasar Garzón, who asked the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court to keep him in his position, for being the three CGPJ members that have shown the most animosity against him.[6]

On 25 June 2017, in an interview in La Sexta, Police Commissioner Villarejo accused her of commissioning a report against Garzón.[7]

Back to politicsEdit

In May 2016, Robles jumped into politics when Pedro Sánchez announced she will occupy the second spot of the socialist list for Madrid at the upcoming general election.[8]

Robles (left) in March 2018.

Robles requested a leave of absence from the judiciary, but on May 19 the CGPJ voted 4 to 3 that a leave of absence to occupy a political position implies the renunciation of the position as Supreme Court Justice.[9]

She positioned with Sánchez in the ensuing leadership crisis that affected the PSOE following the elections. And in the investiture vote of Mariano Rajoy, she was one of the 15 socialist MP's not that abstained from voting against the party lines.[10] At the 39th Socialist Congress she supported Pedro Sánchez's candidacy to Secretary-General of the party (Despite not being able to vote as she is not a card carrying member). After Sánchez won the congress, Robles was appointed spokesperson of the Socialist Parliamentary Group, replacing José Luis Ábalos.[11]

In June 2018 following the successful vote of no confidence against Mariano Rajoy, Robles was appointed Minister of Defence by the new Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Robles with the U.S. Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, during the Defense Ministerial meeting in 2020.

Defence MinisterEdit

With the appointment of Pedro Sánchez as Prime Minister of Spain, Robles was appointed by Sánchez a week later to assume the office of Minister of Defence thus vanishing the speculation that Robles could take over a "superministry" of Interior and Justice (as happened between 1994 and 1996 with minister Juan Alberto Belloch).[12][13]

At the beginning of her term as Defence Minister, Robles had to face some controversies like the prohibition to use tattoos in visible places that mainly affected womans (because of the use of skirt in the uniform),[14][15] the publication of a manifest by retired military officials in support of dictator Franco[16] and more controversies around the S-80 class submarine.[17]

Military programsEdit

Her department approved major defence projects like upgrading the budget of the S-80 submarines by 1.8 billion,[18] and another billion for the modernization of the Boeing CH-47 Chinook of the Army which added to other military projects, in her first 3 months in office she approved investments worth 5 billion.[19]

Robles attends to the 2019 Pascua Militar at the Royal Palace.

On September 4, 2018, the Ministry of Defence announced that was studying to cancel a major contract with Saudi Arabia consisted in 400 laser-guided bombs because of the possible use of this weapons in the Yemeni War.[20] However, a few days later the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister itself confirmed that the contract would go ahead to avoid a possible diplomatic conflict with Saudi Arabia that could put at risk Navantia's 2 billion contract.[21]

In October of that year, when the assassination of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was discovered the international community rapidly reproached this event and some European countries like Germany cancelled its military contracts with Saudi Arabia and called for the rest of EU countries to do the same,[22] a petition that was ignored by those countries including Spain to protect thousands of jobs that the military contracts with this country generates.[23] A month later both countries created a joint venture to build five corvettes.[24]

On December 14, 2018, the Council of Ministers approved the military plan of Minister Robles to build five new F110 class frigates to replace the old Santa María class, 348 battle vehicles and upgrading the Eurofighter jet worth 7.3 billion to be paid in the next 15 years.[25]

On January 30, 2019, she accompanied King Felipe VI on his trip to Iraq to mark the King's 51st birthday. They visited the contingent of more than 300 Spanish soldiers from the Besmayah "Gran Capitán" base.[26]


Robles addresses the Spanish citizens in a press conference due to COVID-19 pandemic.

In March 2020, the Prime Minister designated her as one of the four delegated authorities in charge of direct management of the health crisis of COVID-19.[27] For this task, under her direction, Robles appointed the JEMAD, Miguel Ángel Villarroya Vilalta, as sole command of all the measures that his department carried out.[28]

During the health crisis, her department mainly deployed the Military Emergencies Unit (UME), which was responsible for the disinfection of thousands of retirement homes[29] as well as other public places such as train stations, ports and airports.[30][31] At the same time, different military, naval and air police units were also deployed to collaborate with the law enforcement agencies in public security tasks.[32]

At the end of March, Robles publicly denounced abandoned, and sometimes dead, elderly people in some of the retirement homes that the UME had disinfected.[33] The head of the Military Emergencies Unit, Luis Manuel Martínez Meijide, stated shortly after that these cases were "very punctual".[34]

On April 27, Robles addressed the Defense Committee of the Congress of Deputies to explain the management that his department was carrying out. Margarita Robles praised the task of the Armed Forces, to which she attributed all the successes, and assumed "exclusively" all the errors that would have been committed as her own.[35]

Due to her management in this crisis, the popularity of the minister soared, achieving an approval rating of close to 68%, the highest in a minister in decades.[36]

Acting Foreign MinisterEdit

On November 27, 2019, the Office of the Prime Minister announced that because of the departure of Foreign Minister Borrell to the European Commission, Robles would temporary assume the office of Minister of Foreign Affairs until a new government is formed.[37][38] She assumed the office on November 30 and she left it on January 13, when Arancha González Laya assumed as new foreign minister.

Awards and decorationsEdit


  1. ^ "Feminista, creyente y acostumbrada a mandar, así es la aspirante a ser la primera ministra del Interior en España". Vanity Fair (Spain). 3 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Ellas Mandan". La Revista El Mundo nº 177.
  3. ^ "Ellas Juzgan". EL Mundo La Revista nº177.
  4. ^ "Margarita Robles. La primera Mujer que preside una Audiencia". El País. 23 March 1991.
  5. ^ Hernández, José Antonio (2012-05-25). "La negativa del presidente del Supremo a dimitir fractura el Poder Judicial". El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  6. ^ Altozano, Manuel (2010-03-06). "Garzón denuncia una campaña del PP contra él para acabar con el 'caso Gürtel'". El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  7. ^ "Siete horas con Villarejo: "Margarita Robles me encargó el informe contra Garzón"". El Confidencial (in Spanish). 2017-06-24. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  8. ^ "La juez Margarita Robles será la número dos del PSOE por Madrid". El País. 12 May 2016.
  9. ^ "El Poder Judicial le quita a la candidata del PSOE Margarita Robles su plaza en el Supremo". El País. 19 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Rajoy, investido presidente gracias a la abstención de todos los diputados del PSOE excepto 15". El Mundo. 29 October 2016.
  11. ^ "La magistrada Margarita Robles será la nueva portavoz del PSOE en el Congreso de los Diputados". El Mundo. 10 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Margarita Robles será superministra de Interior y Justicia en el Gobierno de Pedro Sánchez | Ministros Pedro Sánchez". Okdiario (in Spanish). 2018-06-05. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  13. ^ "Margarita Robles será 'superministra' de Justicia e Interior". El Plural (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  14. ^ "Spanish army skirts around tattoo troubles by launching 'unisex' uniform". 2018-07-09. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  15. ^ González, Miguel (2018-07-11). "Spain's military to change recruitment rules against tattooed women". El País. ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  16. ^ "181 militares retirados firman un manifiesto en defensa de Franco". El Huffington Post (in Spanish). 2018-07-31. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  17. ^ "Spain's new sub 'too big for its dock'". BBC News. 2018-07-18. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  18. ^ "Submarino S-80: el techo de gasto aumentará 1.770 millones". Por Tierra, Mar y Aire (in Spanish). 2018-07-26. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  19. ^ "Sánchez aprueba inversiones en Defensa por 4.232 millones en sus cien días de Gobierno". Por Tierra, Mar y Aire (in Spanish). 2018-09-10. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  20. ^ "Spain cancels sale of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia". 2018-09-04. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  21. ^ Editorial, Reuters. "Spain will go ahead with sale of 400 bombs to Saudi Arabia". U.S. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  22. ^ Noack, Rick. "Germany halts arms deals with Saudi Arabia, encourages allies to do the same". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  23. ^ Abellán, Lucía; País, El (2018-10-22). "Spain not stopping arms sales to Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi killing". El País. ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  24. ^ "Saudi Arabia and Spain launch joint venture to build five corvettes". Arab News. 2018-11-07. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  25. ^ González, Miguel (2018-12-14). "Spain set to approve €7.3-billion weapons program". El País. ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  26. ^ Press, Europa (2019-01-30). "Margarita Robles viaja a Irak con el Rey Felipe VI". El Correo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  27. ^ Press, Europa. "Ministros de Defensa, Interior, Transportes y Sanidad tendrán competencias en todo España durante la alarma". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  28. ^ "Robles reune al comité que coordinará las medidas de Defensa contra el coronavirus". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). 2020-03-15. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  29. ^ "¿Cómo trajaba la UME en la desinfección de las residencias? "Es una unidad muy dura, pero agradecida"". Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  30. ^ "El Ejército llega a Euskadi para limpiar estructuras del Estado". Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  31. ^ "La UME desinfecta la estación del AVE en Ciudad Real en un despliegue inédito por alerta sanitaria". Lanza Digital (in Spanish). 2020-03-20. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  32. ^ "El Gobierno pone al Ejército a patrullar las calles para asegurar el confinamiento". ELMUNDO (in Spanish). 2020-03-30. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  33. ^ Colell, Manuel Vilaseró Elisenda (2020-03-23). "La UME halla cadáveres y ancianos abandonados al desinfectar residencias". elperiodico (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  34. ^ Aragón, Heraldo de. "El jefe de UME sobre los muertos hallados en residencias: "Son casos muy puntuales"". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  35. ^ ELMUNDOTV (2020-04-27). "Margarita Robles: "Los errores que haya habido son exclusivamente míos"". ELMUNDOTV (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  36. ^ "La popularidad de Margarita Robles se dispara: primer notable en décadas a un ministro". El Español (in Spanish). 2020-04-28. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  37. ^ Abellán, Lucía (2019-11-27). "Margarita Robles reemplazará temporalmente a Borrell como ministra de Exteriores". El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  38. ^ "Margarita Robles will temporarily assume competences in Foreign Affairs". The Diplomat in Spain. 2019-11-27. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  39. ^ "Real Decreto 967/2013, de 5 de diciembre, por el que se concede la Gran Cruz de la Orden de San Raimundo de Peñafort al expresidente y exvocales del Consejo General del Poder Judicial". Boletín Oficial del Estado (in Spanish). 6 December 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
Political offices
Preceded by
María Dolores de Cospedal
Minister of Defence
Party political offices
Preceded by
José Luis Ábalos Meco
Leader of the Socialist Group in the Congress of Deputies
Succeeded by
Adriana Lastra