The Spanish Election Was a Repudiation
of America's "War on Terror"

by Hanin Othman
March 16, 2004

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The elections in Spain on Sunday were not merely overshadowed by the terror attacks last Thursday, they were actually turned around by them. In only four days a rather sure victory of the ruling PP (People's Party) gave way to an absolute majority of PSOE (Socialist Party).

The Socialists seem to have gained their votes through higher voter turnout, from those who voted for PP last year, and from those who usually vote for small leftist parties like the IU (United Left), but wanted to make sure this time, that PP doesn't get the majority.

With most Spaniards against their country's support for the Iraq-War from the beginning (polls talk of 90%), the attacks against four early morning trains on the outskirts of Madrid carrying workers, school kids and students were seen as a direct consequence of the PP's policy. One slogan often chanted and sprayed on walls after the attacks was "Your War, Our Dead" and "Occupation is not for free. We've been handed the bill: 200 dead."

But what still might have cost the PP most of their votes was the apparent effort of the ruling party to blame ETA, the Basque separatists, to save their votes. It was obvious that the PP was hoping to keep the al Qaeda option low until after the elections out of fear that the people would turn against them. The people's reaction was immediate: The PP was punished for drawing Spain into a war it never wanted (and even less after they've seen now what bombs do to people) and for trying to hide the consequences. The people's decision was very clear: they did not wish to be ruled by PP anymore. But is PSE, with it's slogan "real change", really so different? Was PSOE against the war out of love for peace or out of their role as opposition party?

Another thing that became clear in the bombs' aftermath are the different approaches by Europe and by America. Is the War on Terror fought because of attacks like this one, or are the new attacks a result of the War on Terror?

Before we know what's going on we're caught in a vicious circle of never ending violence. In the face of this, Spain's reaction was the right one: They started a proper criminal investigation. They did NOT arrest hundreds of Arabs, but instead found five persons (Moroccans and Indians) involved in selling and manipulating the card of the cell phone that was part of the bomb that didn't explode. Instead of trading their liberties for a fake sense of security, Spaniards defended their democracy in a huge voter turnout. People became aware more than ever that despite all its many flaws and shortcomings, our democracies still remain the only places where you can live a good life. There's much to improve, but also much to loose.

Hanin Othman is a German-Palestinian Student writing from Spain. She can be contacted at: hanin_othman@hotmail.com




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