The Mudville Gazette
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Monday, March 15, 2004

For Whom the Bell Tolls

In the 2000 U.S. presidential election, 51% of the voting age population voted.

In Spain's recent elections
The turnout was higher than expected. More than 77 percent of the country's 35 million eligible voters cast ballots, compared with 55 percent four years ago. In Madrid, the figure was 80 percent.

Ironic, perhaps, that the terrorist attacks were so highly effective in bringing out the vote. And of those 27 million who voted,
According to official election figures, the Socialists won 43 percent of the vote and 164 seats in the 350-member Chamber of Deputies; the Popular Party won 38 percent of the vote and 148 seats.

Recap: 8 million eligible did not vote, the Popular Party received 10.2 million votes, and the Socialists won 11.6 million votes.
The Socialists were short of the 176 seats to have a majority necessary to form a government, which means it must create a coalition with another party or parties.

Some quotes from among the 33% of eligible Spanish voters who voted Socialist:
``Our prime minister has gotten us into a terrible, completely wrong war,'' Vanessa BellÀon, a 23-year-old preschool teacher with a piercing near her lower lip, said as she voted there for the United Left Party. ``And because of it, I spent yesterday and today going to funerals. I am thinking of a 3-year-old child at my school who no longer has a mother.''

``I certainly did not vote for the Popular Party,'' said a 79-year-old retired carpenter who identified himself only as JuliÀan. ``My daughter's hand was cut off, and she almost lost a part of her leg. Aznar should come here to see that, to see these people. But he did nothing for us, he did nothing for the poor, he is one who brought us to war. I went through the civil war, and the postwar. But this is worse.''

Since the Spanish Civil War was over long before I was born I'll have to take his word for that. (Though it does go against everything I've read or heard.)

Here's an excerpt from a translation of the letter claiming responsibility for the bombings, allegedly by Al Qaeda:
"The Death Brigades penetrated into the European Crusader heartland, and struck a painful blow at one of the foundations of the Crusader coalition. This is part of a settling of old accounts with Crusader Spain, the ally of the U.S., in its war against Islam…

"Where is America, Aznar? Who will protect you? Who will protect Britain? Who will protect Japan, Italy, and other agents? By striking at the Italian forces in Nasiriyya [Iraq], we sent you and America's agents a warning, demanding that you quit the coalition against Islam, but you did not get the message…

"Now we say it clearly, hoping that you [Aznar] will understand it this time. We at the Abu Hafs Al-Masri Brigades are not sorry for the deaths of so-called civilians. Are they permitted to kill our children, our women, our elderly, and our youth in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, and Kashmir, and we are forbidden from killing them? Allah, may he be praised, said: ' Whoever attacks you, attack him in the same way that he attacked you' [Qur'an 2:194].

Memri's analysis is that this statement does not seem to be an authentic Al-Qa'ida document.

This from another Spanish Socialist:
A 26-year-old window frame maker, who identified himself only as David, said he had changed his vote from Popular Party to Socialist because of the bombings and the war in Iraq. ``Maybe the Socialists will get our troops out of Iraq, and Al Qaeda will forget about Spain, so we will be less frightened,'' he said. ``A bit of us died in the train.''

Whether it was their letter or not, Al Qaeda celebrates victory.

No, wait, the socialists. In Spain. They were the big winners.

They are doing the celebrating.

And what percentage of Americans will vote this year?