Rightwing Aznar Regime Routed in Spain

A severe blow to Bush-Blair’s war mongering

The Election result in Spain has injected new life into European politics. The defeat of the right wing Popular Party of José Maria Aznar vindicates the popular sentiments of people in Europe against his support for Washington’s war against Iraq. It reflects the depth of public opposition—throughout Europe and in the United States—to the war-mongering of Aznar, Britain’s Tony Blair and, above all, George W. Bush.

The Socialist Workers’ Party’s success in Spain is attributed to the new Prime Minister-elect Zapatero’s opposition to Spain’s involvement in Iraq.

Britain’s Independent newspaper commented that “The sudden loss of power for Spain’s ruling Popular Party, which joined Tony Blair in steadfastly supporting George Bush’s ‘war on terror,’ is nothing short of a political earthquake. With growing unhappiness over Iraq already eating into Mr. Bush’s lead in the race for re-election, and Mr. Blair facing a crisis of credibility over his justification for the war, the Spanish upset could augur a total change in the political landscape for the three main protagonists in the war to oust Saddam.”

The election results have blown up the false image projected by the media of a broad popular consensus in support of the right-wing policies of Aznar, Bush and Blair. It has laid bare an important political reality: the fact that each of these governments rests on an extremely narrow social base of support.

The conservatives fell from 183 to 148. The massive turnout of 77% surpassing the earlier turnout of 55% of 2000 elections was considered as the continuation of the mass protests in another form. Spanish workers have played an exemplary role in the anti globalization movement. The electorate was swelled by some 2 million first-time voters. They are thought to have flocked to the Socialist cause.

Last year Spain observed the largest anti-war demonstration of the world, participated by more than one million people. A day after the bomb blast, on Friday, the spontaneous protest march was an unprecedented one. That day, conservative daily El Mundo estimated that more than 11 million of Spain’s 42.7 million people took part in marches across the country. During the eight years rule, Aznar’s government has provoked and accentuated the confrontation between and against peoples, notably against the Basque and Catalan people. In order to accentuate this Aznar was out to put the blame for Madrid bombings on the Basque separatist ETA. He all along claimed that he has definitive proof on this and this went unsubstantiated. As evidence mounted that seemed to point to Al Qaeda, the conviction grew among broad masses of Spaniards, who had opposed the war from the start, that Aznar’s support for the US invasion had heightened the threat of terrorist atrocities and politically implicated the government in the tragic loss of life at Madrid in which 200 died and 1500 injured. Aznar had dragged Spain into war against Iraq, despite the unanimous opposition of the population. Now his stand exposed himself as a “liar” for hiding information on the terrorist attacks in Madrid

When the bombs went off in Spain, that nation and the world faced a tipping point. The fear and horror could have compelled the Spanish people to support their government and its role in the farcical War on Terror. They could have allowed themselves to be swept up in hysteria and lined up behind leaders who have, thus far, done everything wrong. They did not do this. They did, in fact, overwhelmingly repudiated their government and its war. Aznar regime had gambled everything on its blind support for the United States, or rather the Bush administration, at the price of weakening the bond between the people of Spain and Europe.

Congratulating the decision to withdraw the Spanish troops from Iraq by June 30, in a message to José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Fidel Castro reminded him not to forget that, “by virtue of actions and pressures on the part of Mr. Aznar as the head of the government of Spain, more than 1,000 young men from small and impoverished Latin American nations were sent as cannon fodder to Iraq under the command of the Spanish Legion. Thus, the possible death of any of those young people is the responsibility of the Spanish state. The peoples of Latin America thus have the right to expect the immediate return of those young people. They do not have a duty to wait until June 30.”

The Spanish verdict is a big political setback to Washington as well as London and will strengthen the anti-War forces.

– R.Vidyasagar