Isn’t the simplest explanation for what happened in Spain just that the splendid response of the population — with eight million on the streets in protest against last week’s bombings and in defence of Spanish democracy — had the effect of raising the electoral turnout; and that when turnout rates rise in the context of a general democratic mobilisation, Left parties are more likely to benefit, given that it’s the poor, the unemployed, the working class, the less well educated and so on who are, other things being equal, those who are less likely to cast a ballot? And that all the witterings about whether the Socialists are craven defeatists in the struggle against terrorism (they probably aren’t) or whether Mr. Aznar was opportunistic in attempting to pin the blame on Eta for short-term electoral reasons (he probably was) pale into relative insignificance beside this fact?
I conclude that yesterday was a great day for Spanish democracy.
UPDATE [17.3.2004]: Chris Lightfoot has crunched a few numbers, and the provisional conclusion to draw is that I’m barking up the wrong tree here. The data’s very imperfect, however. On the other hand, as Harry is pointing out, there’s some evidence that the PSOE was moving ahead of the PP even before the bombs went off.