Spanish Elections: Not My Country


The Spanish Presidential Elections are/were today, and it looks like Zapatero and his PSOE Party have won.  In other words, Dumb has just beat Dumber. Normally I would care — I do enjoy elections — but it has simply been an incredibly boring campaign with almost no interesting options or political arguments. Just look at the basic facts:

The election season lasts only two months and of those, only the second one is official. There were only two presidential debates, and these were the first in something like 16 years. Notice that Hillary and Obama have already debated 20 times, and those are primaries (there are not primaries in Spain). The biggest success (and possibly the only one) of the incumbent president/party has been passing legislation to legalize same sex marriage. Ironically, this major achievement was followed by almost no marriages. No one cared for it and no one really cared against it.

Zapatero’s other big cause was to negotiate an end to the Basque terrorist group ETA, Spain’s national verguenza. This was a huge failure, but Zapatero continues to have faith. Ironically just a few days prior to the elections, ETA killed a Basque functionary. This terrorist attack mirrored the March 11, 2004 Atocha attacks in the last presidential elections. Those attacks were what gave Zapatero his original victory. As the story goes, then president Aznar refused to recognize the hypothesis that the M11 attacks were perpetrated by an Al Qaeda group, instead attributing them to ETA. PSOE reacted with a media and SMS onslaught calling President Aznar a liar. Two days later, Zapatero won the elections against all previous predictions. Remember, Aznar had supported the War in Iraq, Zapatero upon winning withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq.

Nevertheless, on March 12, 2004, some two million people in Madrid went out into the rainy streets to protest terrorism and its assault on democracy and the people’s free will to peacefully decide their policies and government. The next day, I took the metro and it was packed. A week later, Aznar was no longer in power and people acted like nothing had happened.

So on March 7, 2008, when ETA kills a civil servant on the eve of the elections, why weren’t there mass demonstrations in Madrid? Spain is a country of peace lovers. They are anti-war in almost every circumstance. They are even staunchly anti-death penalty. So why would they not be so outraged by this political death sentence? What is the difference between one terrorist group killing 200 people two days before the 2004 elections and another terrorist group killing one person two days before the 2008 elections? Is is simply a question of statistics as Stalin would have said?

I really don’t know. I don’t have the answer. But cognitive dissonance it surely is. At the end of the day, it is not my country, and my country has plenty of its own problems. In the meantime, Madrid’s local station is about to show a John Wayne flick instead of producing real analysis. I will go with John Wayne.


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Filed under Essays, Living la vida española

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