Sun. Jan 23rd, 2022

Were the Spanish elections last month a victory for democracy or a victory for terrorists? In response to its own terrorist bombings, Spain changed the balance of power, electing a new government, headed up by the Socialist Party. The new Socialist prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has vowed to withdraw Spain’s 1,300 troops from Iraq, condemned American foreign policy, and joined Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and North Korea’s Kim JongIl, in gushing about John Kerry.The previous prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, was among fervent U.S. allies in the war on terrorism, and his party was expected to win the election for a third consecutive term. One terrorist attack later, he is gone, and newly-elected Socialist leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero immediately begins threatening to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq. Does it make sense for a country to overthrow the Popular Party (the name of Anzar’s party) that has fought terrorism on all fronts and replace it with the Socialist Party that is almost “accommodating” to the terrorists?

Many of the Socialist policies seem to indirectly support the terrorists. Whether a supporter or a dissenter of the war in Iraq, one needs to consider the following. The terrorists wanted the troops out of Iraq. Bombing the Madrid railroads literally “scared” Spanish citizens into the voting booth. Once there, they voted impulsively for a party that would promise to get rid of terrorism by withdrawing Spain’s active role in fighting terrorism. Now that the Socialists are in power, the terrorists are going to get what they want. Spain has begun to surrender to the terrorists. Of course, surrender is the natural response to terrorist threats, and the terrorists relied on it.

Spain effectively said that they would withdraw support from the United States, the nation that leads the war on terrorism, so that terrorists would just leave them in peace. This may temporarily free Spain from the harm of terrorism, but in the big picture, it is a bad move because it only allows the terrorists to wield more influence in Europe. Spain has chosen appeasement as opposed to standing their ground and fighting the injustice of terrorism. In European history, one can recall that appeasement was attempted and world war was the result. However, Spain chose reject the party that chose to fight the terrorists, and replaced it with a government that may as well admit defeat instead, because of this new power that terrorists now have. This is a very harmful precdent to set, letting terrorists influence elections.

So how does this affect American politics? Will Americans, too, vote impulsively to change the government solely because of a terrorist attack? It’s really not a good idea because such spontaneous voting behavior distorts democracy and the basis of voting on the issues. Nevertheless, it happened in Spain. So who really won the Spanish election? Looking at Spain before the attack, there was no way that the Socialists would have won on “the issues.” So will the U.S. follow Spain’s suit? I certainly hope not. It would be very detrimental to both democracy and the war on terror, for the U.S., the country that bravely said “no” to the terrorists, to take the same plunge that Spain did.

Anthony Maalouf is a sophomore majoring in Political Science with a minor in Spanish Studies.

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