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SPAIN: The discreet charm of Jose Maria Aznar

Municipal elections have a special importance in Spain. Alfonso XIII quit (he did not abdicate) after municipal elections, without waiting for general elections. Christopher Jones comments on the recent elections in Spain: "In a World still obsessed with the Iraq war, Spanish voters had the first opportunity to manifest their displeasure with their conservative government over Prime Minister José María Aznar's support for the US in nationwide municipal elections. Oh, how the left was confident of victory! Not only did Aznar defy public opinion and support George Bush in his war on Saddam Hussein, bringing thousands of peacniks onto Spain's city streets. Galicia is a traditional stronghold for the Partido Popular (PP). His bungling of the environmental disaster in Galicia, when the oil tanker "Prestige" sank off the Galician coast was thought to be the coup de grâce of a once amazing political career. But the leftist PSOE (socialist party) victory was not to be. The PP's Alberto Ruíz Gallardón was able to keep the conservatives in power in Madrid, keeping the "jewel" in the PP crown. For more tidbits, I am attaching a fairly balanced article because throughout Europe, news of this conservative comeback has conveniently been relegated to the back pages or no pages at all. But the story doesn't stop there. The real threat to stability in Spain had nothing to do with candle light marchers who wanted peace with Saddam Hussein -- the real threat is in the results in Euskadi. There it seems that radical Batasuneros have swelled the PNV ranks and improved their score all over the Basque country, paving the way for the Lehendakari's independence referendum".

RH: Christopher does not mention that, outside of Madrid and Valencia, the Socialists made substantial gains. However, he is correct in calling attention to the real threat in the Basque provinces.

Ronald Hilton - 5/29/03