Power change

The terrorist bombings in Madrid last week were undoubtedly the main factor in Sunday’s upset of the incumbent Popular Party, which supported the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. The victorious Socialists did not. If Al Qaeda organised the bombings, as now seems to be the case, the outcome may be seen by some as a win for the terrorists. We disagree.

Certainly, the events in Madrid have been a blow to the Bush administration’s strategy of inducing democratic governments to endorse its military operations.

The Popular Party expected that its impressive economic achievements would cause the people to overlook Prime Minister José María Aznar’s unpopular decision to support the invasion of Iraq. Thursday’s terrorist strike scrambled the political calculus.

It is possible to support the battle against terrorism and still oppose a political party that embraces the same cause. The Spanish people undoubtedly feel a redoubled commitment to fight on and avenge the innocents who died in Madrid. That did not make them obliged to keep Prime Minister Aznar’s party in power. The Socialists, under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, ran on a platform of withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq unless a UN-led force takes charge after June 30. Zapatero now has an opportunity to use his mandate to pressure US to seek UN help. —The New York Times