The contest in Spain had always been close between the governing Popular Party, which backed Mr. Bush’s policies, and the Socialists, who opposed them. Other issues at stake before the bombings were unemployment, a housing shortage, women’s rights and social benefits.
In March 2003, at the height of opposition to the Iraq war, the Socialists were ahead in polls. With the economy roaring and the Socialist Party in disarray, the Popular Party pulled ahead. On March 7, the last date in which polls were published, an Opina poll showed that the gap had narrowed, giving the Popular Party 42 percent, compared with 38 percent for the Socialists ….
Voters said they were enraged not only by the government’s insistence that the Basque separatist group ETA was responsible, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, but they also resented its clumsy attempts to quell antigovernment sentiment.
For example, the main television channel TVE, which is state-owned, showed scant and selective scenes of antigovernment demonstrations on Saturday night, just as it ran very little coverage of the large demonstrations against the war in Iraq last year. It also suddenly changed its regular programming to air a documentary on the horrors of ETA.
That was the last straw for some Spaniards, who said it evoked the nightmare of censorship during the Franco dictatorship little more than a quarter of a century ago.
Topic: Foreign Affairs