Monday, March 03, 2008

Spanish General Election 2008....The Greatest Fraud Of All

With the second electoral debate between Zapatero and Rajoy set for this evening, the latest opinion polls are looking better for the governing PSOE. The advantage they have seems to have settled at around 4% over the Partido Popular (PP), although some polls still put it lower. If this reflects the reality of voting intentions then the elections will leave things pretty much as they are now, with the PSOE needing allies to form a viable majority. The good news for the PSOE is that the indications on turnout in the elections are promising, with estimates of it being around 75%.

There is of course a party who would like voter participation to be considerably less than this, and PP strategist Gabriel Elorriaga was kind enough to spell out explicitly to the British press what he would never have said so openly to the Spanish media. That the PP wants potential voters of the left to stay at home on election day is hardly a surprise, but for them to confirm that they are actively seeking abstention is a sign that they realise the limits of their appeal. It seems that the only message the PP has for those who don’t support their hard right positions is “Please don’t vote”.

The debate tonight is a big one for Mariano Rajoy, his aggressive attacks last week failed to give him anything approaching a knockout blow, and the general perception was that Zapatero did better from the debate despite an uncertain performance. Tonight the tables are turned slightly as the order of intervention will allow Zapatero to have first say in each section and thus give him more opportunity to set the agenda. It’s not necessarily Rajoy’s final chance to score points in the campaign, that could come tomorrow with the announcement of the latest unemployment figures. However, the story of the polls is that the campaign is not currently going the PP’s way.

In the end one of the biggest talking points of last week’s debate was the decision by Rajoy to openly accuse Zapatero of having attacked the victims of terrorism, an accusation which he refused to withdraw. It seems amazing that following the PP’s exploitation of terrorism over the last few years they can still get away with this sort of thing without the political roof falling in on their heads. Their bogus claims to speak in the name of terrorist victims are not new, they have hidden so much of their opposition behind this shield, but it is a depressing illustration of how an important issue can be manipulated to such extremes without apparently affecting the willingness of many people to vote for them.

At least now many victims have had enough and are starting to speak out against the fraudulent way in which the PP has attempted to use their suffering for its own political objectives. The PP only recognises as victims those who support these objectives, such as the leadership of the AVT. Those victims of the Madrid bombings or ETA who refused to accept the conspiracy theories that the PP and their media friends promoted are simply airbrushed out of the photo, and of course denied any funding by those administrations that the PP controls.

Rajoy used as support for his accusation the claim that Zapatero had negotiated politically with ETA, a claim backed up with the blatant lie that no other Spanish government had ever done this before. Irony of ironies, Rajoy’s main advisor in last week’s debate was a certain Pedro Arriola. Now Mr Arriola knows a thing or two about negotiating with ETA, he was a member of the team sent by José Maria Aznar to talk face to face with ETA in Switzerland in 1999. So the question naturally arises, if they didn’t negotiate politically with ETA at this meeting, what were they discussing? Perhaps the weather? Or Athletic Bilbao’s prospects for that season? Some analysts felt that Zapatero could have responded much more strongly on this issue than he did in last week’s encounter. Perhaps tonight he will.

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