In 2004 Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski made an official visit to Spain. The programme included a meeting with the opposition leader. To the official residence of the Head of State arrived a young, smiling and – as it turned out later – quite audacious José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. During a half-hour talk he presented the plan of his party for the upcoming elections. His radicalism was understandable because – according to polls – Zapatero was to lose the elections. By the way, the young leader did not refrain from criticizing his fellow socialist Kwasniewski for sending troops to Iraq…
A bit later, as a result of Al-Qaeda’s bombing and the deceptions of then right-wing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, the smile and the courage of Zapatero have seduced most of the Spanish people and the entire European left. He showed another face of his nation. Within a short time Spain has introduced the most progressive legislation on civil partnerships and state-church relations. Zapatero has also liberalized the anti-abortion law, which has sparked a fury of the Spanish right wing and church. He also managed to win the next elections.
But then the troubles began.
He has been defeated by a crisis. Or actually by the fact that he disregarded the crisis in its initial phase. As a socialist he could not take from the poor, while the rich were able to successfully defend themselves. Zapatero had predicted such an end of his rule, and his decision to shorten the term of office gave the socialists a chance to save face. Although after yesterday’s defeat, they will leak their wounds for a long time.
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was a hope that the Spanish left would bring a new wave of socialist Europe. But this has not happened.Author : Marek Siwiec MEP