WHY THE SOCIALISTS WON….I haven’t been following the news or reading blogs much for the past couple of days, and I now realize that my Spain post on Sunday night attracted so much attention because I was wading into one of those issues that had already become a blogosphere free-for-all.

Since I still haven’t caught up with the minutiae of the appeasement charges and the warmonger countercharges, I guess I should just keep quiet. But I don’t feel like it. Into the breach!

Randy Paul at Beautiful Horizons has an email today from a Spanish friend that fairly convincingly makes the case that the vote turned against Aznar and the PP not because of any sense of appeasement ? decidedly not, in fact ? but because it had become so transparently clear that Aznar was playing an unusually cynical game of politics with the bombings:

The PP knew that their antiterrorist policy (against ETA) was one of its main winning cards, and they didn’t hesitate to blatantly manipulate the 11-M attack, suppressing information, calling people to demonstrate against ETA, knowing all the while that the Antiterrorist Information Brigade had as good as discarded ETA authorship a few hours after the attack. The antiterrorist police heads even threatened to resign at the madness of it all, and this was leaked to the opposition and the press.

And all the while the state TVE showing documentaries about ETA activities right until late Saturday night, on the eve of the election, and failing to report live on Minister Acebes informing about the Al-Q line of investigation which he had been forced to acknowledge ? forced by his own angered police heads and by the media which had all the information but was withholding it just long enough for the Minister to do the decent thing. This heartless manipulation of the dead for political gain clinched it….

Yesterday I wrote that I thought this explanation probably accounted for most of the change in sentiment among the Spanish electorate. Today I’m getting steadily more willing to discard the “probably” and the “most” from that sentence.

As Randy’s correspondent puts it, “we will only put up with so much lying and manipulation.” This is a salutary lesson for certain other world leaders, I think: if (if!)the Spanish vote really did represent any kind of victory for al-Qaeda, the fault lies with those leaders who lost the trust of their electorate through sustained and cynical deceit. It is a warning they should not ignore.

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