Terrorism in Elections

Tomorrow, March 9th 2008, Spain goes to the polls to elect a new government. Yesterday, March 7th, 2008, criminal band ETA killed a person, Isaías Carrasco, who had served as a Mondragon town councilor with the socialist party (PSE).

This latest victim of ETA had no bodyguards, for his term as councilor had ended some time ago. He was an easy target of the assassins, as could be any of us.

The timing of this killing is significant. They picked precisely a time two days before the general election in Spain to commit their latest crime. Some analysts suggest this is because ETA wants to state “here we are, and we have the capability to kill”. Some say that ETA did this simply because it’s all they know to do. However, I believe the timing was carefully chosen to fall precisely two days before the election, with the intention to influence voters.

Had they committed their crime several days before the election, the killing would not be as present in people’s minds at the time of the election. By doing it just two days before, they ensure it will have an impact on the election.

This is not to say that people (voters) are easily impacted. It is human nature to establish relationships between different events. Terrorism and ETA have been present themes during the campaign. Yesterday’s terrorist act is easily related to the campaign in people’s minds. Terrorists know this, and thus they choose the appropriate time to kill for the benefit of their interests.

The terrorists’ interest is that the current opposition party (PP) does not come into power. There are only two presidential candidates standing a chance to become the next Spanish PM: Mariano Rajoy (PP, currently in the opposition) and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (PSOE, current Spanish Prime Minister). Surely the terrorists would rather avoid both of them, but given the options, it’s far better for ETA to have Rodríguez Zapatero as Spanish Prime Minister again.

Rodríguez Zapatero has proved [1],[2],[3] during his 4-year term, that he is willing to concede something (however small it may be) to ETA in exchange for their surrender. In order words: killing and bombing pays off: you can achieve something by killing people and bombing the public, as long as the guy in power is Rodríguez Zapatero. ETA got the message, and they know that 4 more years of socialist government in Spain could allow them to continue to blackmail the government and obtain something in return. On the contrary, a government ruled by Mariano Rajoy would be on the way of ETA’s plans.

Then, why kill an ex-town councilor of the socialist party two days before the election? Does ETA think they can create among the population (voters) a sense of empathy for the socialist party, and thus increase the chance that the PSOE will receive more votes in tomorrow’s general election? Such theory seems far-fetched, but what other motivation could ETA have to kill at this precise time (two days before the election)?

The socialist government finally made a move several weeks ago by requesting the courts to declare ANV (the cover-up political party of ETA) illegal, according to the law. ANV was declared illegal, and will not be able to run in tomorrow’s general election. ETA might have killed in retaliation for that move, but why wait until this precise time?

In the recent (sad) history of Spain, whenever ETA has killed, the electoral derivative was an increase in votes for the Popular Party (PP). It would be strange that ETA seeks to move people to vote for PP. Other theories claim that because ETA lives on confrontation, they need a conflict to exist, and who better to have a conflict with than the Popular Party. If that were true, however, yesterday the chosen target of ETA would have been a member of the popular party.

Was Carrasco sadly chosen by ETA because other possible targets have bodyguard protection, or because of his affiliation with the socialist party to motivate a sense of empathy towards the PSOE that will help ETA during the next 4 years? We do not know, but while we all (except ETA and their party ANV) mourn yesterday’s death, let us hope that the next Government coming out of tomorrow’s election will take the necessary steps to bring the killers to justice (despite the joke justice in Spain) and to erode support for ETA to bring it to an end.

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