Monday, March 15, 2004

Well, I hate to write this but it's about time I did it. The Vanguardia's headline says it all: "Historic reversal". The Socialists won 164 seats, up 39 from the 2000 elections, and the PP won 148 seats, down 35 from the last elections. A Parliamentary majority is 176 seats. Socialist leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will be the next Prime Minister of Spain.

Here's the rundown of who won what. "Centralist" means that the party is generally against more powers for autonomous governments and sees Spain fundamentally as one nation. "Nationalist" means that the party favors more powers for autonomous regions, if not outright independence for its particular region, and sees Spain fundamentally as several nations or as something that simply should not exist.

PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party): 164 seats. The PSOE is a rather leftist and generally centralist social democratic party. It is strongly anti-American and pacifist, and is not too far distant ideologically from a standard Continental European socialist party.

PP (People's Party): 148 seats. The PP is socially conservative and rather paternalistic; it wouldn't like to dismantle the welfare state, for example, though it might like to trim it back. It's the closest thing there is to a free-market party in Spain. Considered pro-business and pro-American. It is considered the most centralist party. It had governed Spain for the last 8 years.

CiU (Convergence and Union): 10 seats. Moderate Catalan nationalists, if a bit Cataloony at times. A rather paternalistic party, it represents the Catalan petty bourgeoisie. Socially conservative; more Christian Democratic than the PP. Not separatist.

ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia): 8 seats. Radical Catalan nationalists; pro-independence but officially anti-violence. Otherwise generally supports what's policically correct at the moment; has no real ideology outside Catalan nationalism.

PNV (Basque Nationalist Party): 7 seats. Supposedly moderate Basque nationalists, though too friendly with extremists for the taste of many. Basically a Basque nationalist Christian Democratic party. Officially anti-violence; does not openly call for separation from Spain.

IU (United Left): 5 seats. The Spanish Communists. Drew two seats in Barcelona, two in Madrid, one in Valencia, and nothing anywhere else. A fairly standard European Communist party. Virulently anti-American, of course.

CC (Canary Coalition): 3 seats. A rather conservative party that tries to be the voice for the islands, which sometimes feel a little neglected. Not separatist. Has supported the PP in the past.

BNG (Galician National Bloc): 2 seats. Leftist Galician nationalists.

ChA (Aragonese Committees): 1 seat. Somewhat wacky leftist regionalists. Not separatists.

EA (Eusko Alkartasuna): 1 seat. Fairly moderate Basque separatists. Officially non-violent.

NB (Nafarroa Bai): 1 seat. A coalition of Basque nationalist and leftist minor parties in Navarra. First representation in Parliament.

Just about the only good news here for the future of Spain is that the Socialists will have to make a coalition in order to run the country. They need twelve votes for the parliamentary majority of 176; they could get that from CiU's 10 and CC's 3 to make 177. If that happens, then the worst lefty excesses of Zap and the PSOE will be somewhat under control.

There is no news about the bombings in Madrid. The police are still investigating all leads. Perhaps the worst possible nightmare would be if this were an Al Qaeda-ETA combined hit. I still think there's no conclusive evidence pointing to Islamic terrorists, but I have to admit the evidence pointing to ETA is not conclusive, either.

I meant what I said about appeasement and cowardice and I have no plans to take it back. 37.6% of Spaniards, those who voted for the PP, agree with me.

I also don't need any lessons on democracy. Of course we accept that the winners won and we leave them to get on with running the country. That's what democracy is. The people speak. I have no obligation to agree with them, but I do have the obligation to accept them as the legitimate next government of Spain.

But I don't have to like it. And the fact that the democratic process went on as scheduled does not mean that democracy "won". The terrorists won. The people (except for that courageous 37.6 percent) decided they agreed with the terrorists. They voted for the parties that promised "dialogue" with ETA and a pullout from the Coalition. Those are the two things that the domestic and international terrorists wanted.

Here are three fragments from articles appearing in the Vanguardia today. The first is by Fernando Onega.

Rajoy's victory was taken so much for granted that it seems incredible that he lost. What happened? The analysis trips over its first difficulty: the repercussions of the Madrid massacre. Was it Al Qaeda that threw the PP out of the government? As a conclusion, that would be terrible: a terrorist organization causes a party to lose an election...

...The only shadow is that one so difficult to say out loud: that this is a victory facilitated by a terrorist group. I swear to you that my hands are trembling as I write this.

This is by Albert Rexach:

...(At Rajoy's concession) Aznar was thoughtful enough to raise the right hand of the loser that he himself selected without knowing that Bin Laden was voting in these elections too.

Here is Florencio Dominguez:

...The upcoming days for Basque PP members will not be easy: isolated in the Basque country, without the support of the (central) Government, without leadership, and with the eternal terrorist threat hanging over their heads.

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