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Sunday, March 14, 2004

Spain: March Madness

Every now and then, some conspiracy-minded blogger (or commenter) worries that Bush can win the 2004 presidential election thanks to an "October surprise."

After Saddam Hussein was arrested in December, Bush's poll ratings went up for a brief period -- perhaps just enough in a close election to make a meaningful difference. Thus, one worry is that the administration might "find" Osama bin Laden just before the election.

Another concern is that the US might suffer another homeland terrorist attack just before the election, causing nervous voters to "rally 'round" the President.

Well, Spain just had a major terrorist attack, then an election just a few days later -- and the voters unexpectedly ousted the government that had backed Bush in Iraq.

The Washington Post has this on Monday's front page:"Spanish Socialists Oust Party of U.S. War Ally."
Spaniards voted Sunday to remove the party of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar from power, apparently blaming his staunch support of the U.S.-led war in Iraq for the bombing attacks that killed 200 people in Madrid on Thursday.

While opinion polls taken before the bombings had given Aznar's Popular Party a comfortable lead, voters overwhelmingly endorsed candidates from the opposition Socialist Party, whose leader, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has promised to immediately withdraw Spain's 1,300 troops from Iraq, redirect Spain's foreign policy away from the United States and restore good relations with such European allies as France and Germany that had opposed the Iraq war.
The evidence more-and-more suggests the terrorism was the work of al Qaida, and voters appeared to reject the conservative government because it had made Spain a target of terrorists.

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