Sunday, March 14, 2004

I had planned to give regular updates on developments here in Madrid as the investigation continues into who was responsible for Thursday´s bombing and Spain goes to the polls...but since I arrived just keeping up with the demands of my "real" job has been tough enough.

We´ve been putting in 20 hour days and last night, just as we were calling it a day, a man claiming to be from Al Qaeda admitted responsibility for the attacks, meaning we were up for most of the night covering the development.

To give a sense of the mood here....the sense of solidarity in the immediate aftermath of the attacks has given way to anger and a feeling among many people that Spain´s ruling Partido Popular tried to pin the bombings on ETA when it knew Al Qaeda was most probably blame. The reason for this is that the PP supported the War in Iraq and, some argue, a bombing linked to Spain´s support for the war would have hit its electoral chances. I went to a demo outside the PP headquarters last night in which thousands of people held up banners calling the government mentirosos -- liars -- and urging the government to come clean about who carried out the attacks.

There are two possible outcomes that we´re considering as we plan our post-election coverage:
1) That the PP wins the election and opposition supporters take to the streets again, accusing them of "stealing" the election by hiding the truth about who carried out the train attacks.

2) That criticism of the PP´s support for the Iraq War and the resulting bombings is reflected in the outcome of the vote. If the Socialists win, it could be argued that Al Qaeda influenced the outcome of the election in a major western democracy -- an incredible turn of events.


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