If you’re looking for an eminently sensible warning againt misinterpreting the PSOE’s electoral upset of the PP, see Edward’s post below. This here is just my own ?0.02 cast in about the margins.
I should start by confessing that I am not at all sorry to see Rajoy disappointed of his expected post. This is odd, given that I am likelier to agree with the PP then with PSOE on many of the boring policy details that are 99% of a government’s job. But it’s hard to jump over one’s own shadow, and I cannot like a party that gives a home to some who still harbour a sneaking regard for Francoism. Even Aznar recently dismissed with contempt proposals to reinter victims of the Falangist regime, still lying in the mass graves in which the francoists dumped them. Not to say that the PP are not democrats. But they are rather like the US Republicans playing to racist southerners to beef up their electoral numbers. My feeling is that, if you can only win with the votes of those who still harbour some attachment to the tiny plump high-voiced Generalissimo, you shouldn’t want to win. (Indeed, I have another feeling that the new government, as one of its first acts, should dynamite the Valle de los Caidos; but then my feelings towards the relicts of Spanish fascism are perhaps a bit strong.)
And yet all that said, I wonder whether the Spanish electorate was not unduly harsh. They seem to feel that the government was playing politics by focusing on ETA. I’m not so sure. When bombs go off in Spain, sad to say, it’s not unreasonable for eyes to turn towards the pais vasco. And, in the immediate aftermath of an outrage like that in Madrid, I’m not entirely sure that the government is obligated to share all relevant information with the public. Surely the first order of business is forensic, and to the extent that public transparency could compromise investigations, the public will have to wait.
Nor do I believe, as Abiola Lapite appears to do, that in the PSOE’s victory the ‘terrorists have won’. Mr Lapite may wish to recall that the previous PSOE government was not exactly kittenish towards terrorists (this Google search might help). And, though I myself was cheering on the attack on Iraq from the Sceptical Liberal Hawk camp, I rejected and continue to reject the thinking that equates opposition to the US invasion with surrender to al Qaeda. In the time since the invasion it should have become manifestly clear even to those for whom it wasn’t clear beforehand that Hussein had SFA to do with al Qaeda’s outrages. And pace Mr Lapite, it became quite clear last week that Mr Bush’s campaign hasn’t put paid to al Qaeda’s ability to commit further outrages.