Monday, March 15, 2004

To misquote a famous Sun headline "It´s Al Qaeda wot won it."

A few weeks ago, Spain´s ruling Popular Party had a slim lead in the polls and was looking set to win a third term in office.

Then Al Qaeda (probably) carried out a series of bomb attacks in Madrid and by doing so changed the outcome of an election in a major western democracy.

Of course, AQ can´t take all the credit for the Socialist win in last night´s election. The PP´s clumsy handling of the tragedy -- blaming ETA completely and all but ruling out any possible Al Qaeda -- made many Spaniards suspicious that the government wasn´t telling them all the facts.

But even so, anger at the possibility that Spain´s support for the war in Iraq led to the Madrid bombings undoubtedly had a major effect on the outcome of the election.

Spain´s Prime Minister elect, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has already announced a major policy shift, saying he will pull Spanish soldiers out of Iraq if there is no change by the 30 June deadline for the transfer of sovereignty.

And in London Tony Blair must be increasingly concerned over what his support for the war in Iraq will mean for his own electoral chances -- and whether London will be the next target for Al Qaeda´s bombs.


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