Friday, March 12, 2004

Was the Madrid attack timed to influence Spain's elections? 

BOPnews has a good roundup on Spain's coming elections and how they may be affected by yesterday's attack. The election pits the center-right Popular Party, now in power, against the Socialists. No middle ground here! The Spanish population was overwhelmingly against Prime Minister Aznar's participation in the Iraq war. I was in Barcelona one year ago, at the start of the war, and the amount of protest there was just staggering. Every square in the city was filled with protesters, and every other window had a homemade sign saying "No a la guerra!" Much of the population is also angry at Aznar's refusal to grant any autonomy to the provinces.

The degree of anger at the government was so high that before yesterday's attacks, the Socialists were polling close to even with the ruling Popular Party. The attacks may change everything, however. Stirling Newberry at BOPnews writes:
Spain's Azner [sic], a strong supporter of the war in Iraq, has to hope that people vote with a haze of blood for the party promising to be willing to do the most killing in the future.
Makes you wonder whether the attack in Madrid, now thought to be the work of al Qaeda, was timed for just this moment, a few days before the election. Gwynne Dyer has an interesting column arguing that "terrorists and the engineers of the war on terror are codependent," and that al Qaeda wants leaders like Bush and Aznar to get reelected. His argument is that
Al-Qaida sees the overseas adventures of American neo-conservatives as the best possible recruiting tool for its own cause among Muslims worldwide.
Dyer even goes so far as to predict--and this was way back in October 2003--that al Qaeda might try to influence the US presidential election, tipping it toward Bush with a well-timed terrorist attack. In light of the Madrid attack, this prediction strikes me as remarkably prescient.

UPDATE: This article suggests that the ruling Popular Party will benefit in the elections if ETA is found responsible, but the PP will be hurt if al Qaeda is responsible. I'm not so sure. The PP may benefit either way. But this may be a moot point. When voters go to the polls on Sunday, we may still not know who was responsible.
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