Spain: Poll triumph for Socialists
Monday, March 15, 2004 Posted: 1:03 AM EST (0603 GMT)
Spain (CNN) -- In a dramatic rebuff to the ruling conservative Popular
Party, Spain's socialists have scored a stunning victory in national
Three days after terror attacks killed 200 people
in Madrid, socialist leader Jose-Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has vowed to
make the defeat of terrorism his immediate priority.
Although his government may be one of change, some things will remain constant, Zapatero said.
Mariano Rajoy, the Popular Party candidate, conceded defeat saying the election was marred by Thursday's tragic events.
"The Spanish citizen has spoken," said Rajoy, who was flanked by Aznar.
said Sunday's results "force the big national parties to examine our
responsibilities," and he vowed that the Popular Party would do just
"More than always, the national priority must always be the defeat of terrorists," he said.
concession came after some 83 percent of the vote had been counted,
showing the Socialist Workers Party on track to win 164 seats in the
country's 350-seat parliament.
The ruling conservative Popular Party is tipped to win 148 seats, thus ending eight years of conservative rule.
a minute of silence to remember Thursday's bombing victims, Zapatero
expressed thanks "to all the governments and countries that have been
with us in our pain."
Current Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar had anointed Rajoy as his successor, but Spain's people had other ideas. (Analysis)
was high at 76 percent with voters seeming to express anger with the
government, accusing it of provoking the Madrid attacks by supporting
the U.S.-led war in Iraq, which most Spaniards opposed.
election was thrown wide open by a reported al Qaeda claim that it was
responsible for Thursday's Madrid train bombings to punish the
government for supporting the Iraq war.
Before Thursday, the Popular Party had been favored to win by a comfortable margin.
booths opened amid claims that Aznar's government possibly withheld
information from the public about who was behind the terror attack that
killed 200 people and injured 1,500.
Ministers had initially
blamed the Basque separatist group ETA, but as evidence mounted of an
Islamic link, officials were forced to revise this position.
said on Sunday, however, that they had been unable to identify the
purported al Qaeda military spokesman who had claimed responsibility on
a videotape for the bombings. (Full story)
Minister Angel Acebes said Sunday police would continue to hold five
men -- three Moroccans and two Indians -- arrested on Saturday under
anti-terrorist laws. One of the five men has been linked to the alleged
ringleader of al Qaeda in Spain.
The Socialists, who had pledged
to bring home Spanish troops from Iraq if they won Sunday, would
benefit if al Qaeda or another Islamic group were found to be
responsible because of their opposition to the war, analysts said.
world leaders Sunday joined in solidarity with the Spanish people and
condemnation of last week's terrorist attacks. (Full story)
Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman and Correspondents Alessio Vinci, Brent Sadler and Diana Muriel contributed to this report.