It will likely be regarded as the biggest bombshell in Spanish electoral history. Literally.
Mere days after a series of backpack bombs exploded aboard trains and in commuter stations around Madrid, the Spanish people in an orgy of retribution appear to have ousted the governing Popular Party in favor of the moderate Socialist Party. In light of new evidence placing the blame for Tuesday’s attacks squarely at the feet of the Al-Qaeda terror network, the Popular Party of outgoing Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Adnar, who steadfastly supported United States President George W. Bush’s war on terror, appears to be taking the brunt of the backlash. While Spain appears to have lost the gumption to soldier on, the real victors in the 2004 Spanish Election will most certainly be the terrorists themselves.
What message can we gleam from this sudden downturn in the fortunes of the Popular Party? It is of course that Al Qaeda’s domestic terror attacks are working. The people of Spain have spoken loud and clear, and appear desirous of joining Canada and a lengthy roster of nations who have adopted a head-in-the-sand to fighting the enemies of liberty and western democracy. For any other nations who are either in support of the U.S. lead coalition or are sitting on the fence, the message is clear: “It could happen to you.”
Previous generations would no doubt have risen to the cause, fully prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in defending the personal liberties and democratic traditions that are the backbone of western society. In today’s society, western governments choose instead to look away, ignoring the greater peril that exists should we choose not to confront Al Qaeda and the other purveyors of terror worldwide: The loss of these same liberties and democratic traditions that are the foundation of the free, open and tolerant society in which we live today.
Madrid â€” Voters ousted Spain’s ruling party in elections Sunday, with many saying they were shaken by bombings in Madrid and furious with the government for backing the Iraq war and making their country a target for al-Qaeda.
The Socialist Party declared victory with 79 per cent of the votes counted, as results showed it winning 164 seats in the 350-member parliament and the ruling Popular Party taking 147. The latter had 183 seats in the outgoing legislature.
“According to the available data, the Socialist Party has won the general election. It is a clear victory,” said Jose Blanco, the party’s campaign manager.
Turnout was high at 76 per cent. Many voters said Thursday’s bombings, which killed 200 people and wounded 1,500, was a decisive factor, along with the government’s much-criticized handling of the initial investigation.
“The Popular Party has made me lose faith in politics,” said Juan Rigola, 23, a biologist in Barcelona. “It deserves to lose and to see the Spanish people turn against them.”
The electorate of 34.5 million included about 1.9 million mostly young voters added to the rolls since the 2000 general election.
Until the bombing, the conservative Popular Party was projected by most polls to beat the Socialists, although perhaps without retaining their majority in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies.
But the disaster, which the government initially blamed on the Basque separatist group ETA, threw the election wide open. The attack was followed by emotional rallies across the country.
Critics accused the government, which had trumpeted its crackdown on ETA, of manipulating the investigation for political gain. That struck a chord with voters.
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