3). Although the Socialist Party leader was not known as anti-American, he did advocate for a stronger and more independent role for Spain in terms of its foreign policy and the world economy.
Another voter was more optimistic "I think we'll see social policies such as aid for the poor, better working conditions, and better living conditions as there are not enough homes. I think there will be a general change in internal and external policies" now that the socialists were in power, she said (Bailey 2004). One young man who identified himself as 'unemployed' said: "I hope he [the socialist leader] does pull out of Iraq. Spain should not be involved in something that is nothing to do with us" (in pictures: Spain's shock result, 2004, March, BBC News, p.2004). In short, Spain's government was blamed for putting loyalty to America above Spanish national interests. Anger at America was almost as strong as anger against the terrorists.
Relations between Spain and America, put under strain by the election, became further aggravated when President George Bush and administration officials criticized Spanish policies and intelligence before the attacks. The Bush Administration said "that the Spanish government had mishandled early information about the Madrid bombing when it played down evidence that Islamic extremists were behind the plot...He suggested that the Spanish government had clung to the supposition that a Basque separatist group, ETA, was responsible and failed to tell the public about emerging evidence that Islamic extremists might have detonated the bombs" (Sanger & Johnston 2004). The administration's suggestion that Spain was partially to blame for the attacks further soured relations between the two countries, even though the government's leadership had changed radically.
Despite (or some Spaniards might say because) of the ascent of the leftists, since the bombings almost four years ago, there has yet to have been another successful Islamic terrorist attack on Spanish soil. This is most likely attributed to improved security proceedings, and Spain has worked in its own interest to improve safety by cooperating with the United States to improve terrorist detection. Spain was the first EU country to sign an agreement "for the exchange of screening information on known and suspected terrorists" (United States Department of State country reports on terrorism 2007 - Spain, 2008). Spain has also participated in the Afghanistan war, contributing more than 700 troops to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. After the trial of the 2004 attack's perpetrators the Spanish National Court returned guilty verdicts on twenty-one individuals and handed down sentences ranging from three years to almost 43,000 years in prison (United States Department of State country reports on terrorism 2007 - Spain, 2008).
The Socialist government of Spain continues to fight against terrorism in Western Europe. This is significant, given its Spain's proximity to North Africa makes it a point of entry for many Western European Islamic terrorist groups. Spain's large Muslim community has spurred Osama bin Ladin to publically call the recapture of the former Muslim-controlled region in Spain and restoration to the Islamic world. Spain is well aware of the fact that even in the absence of uncritical support for the United States, it remains a target for terrorists (United States Department of State country reports on terrorism 2007 - Spain, 2008). The Spanish government's support is not as loyally pro-U.S. As it was during the conservative Pardido regime but fortunately many of the United States' and Spain's interest continue to cohere.
Adler, Katya. (2004, April 4). Passengers weigh the risks in Spain. BBC News. Retrieved March 17, 2009 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3597015.stm
Bailey, Dominic (2004. March 15). Spain awakes to socialist reality. BBC News. Retrieved March 17, 2009 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3512222.stm
In pictures: Spain's shock result. (2004. March 15). BBC News. Retrieved March 17, 2009 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/04/europe_spain0s_shock_result/html/3.stm
Sanger, David E. & David Johnston. (2004, March 18). U.S. official says Spanish government mishandled' reports on bombing. The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2009 at http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C05E3DD1231F93BA25750C0A9629C8B63
United States Department of State country reports on terrorism 2007 - Spain. (30 April 2008). Online Version. UNHCR Refworld. Available March 17, 2009 at http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/48196cb828.html