They say it is easier to make a comeback from failure than from success. It was clear that the Popular Party's electoral defeat on March 14, 2004 was not directly due to the bloody Al Qaeda bomb attack on Madrid commuter trains on March 11, three days earlier. Normally this would cause the public to close ranks with the government, as with the Twin Towers attack and Bush II. It was the PP's policy of lying over the next three days that spurred masses of normally indifferent voters to come out and vote against the Popular Party, whose government persisted in a manifest falsity. The demonstration on March 12, called by Prime Minister Aznar, at first enjoyed mass support, but ended with people beginning to ask, who really did it?
By about noon on the day of the bombing itself, it began to be apparent that Al Qaeda had really done it. The police, the intelligence services -- both Spanish and foreign -- were unanimous. But within the Popular Party the electoral advisors, headed by Pedro Arriola, had decreed that the vote would incline to the PP if the attack could be blamed on ETA; while if Al Qaeda was found responsible, there was a risk that blame would fall on the PP, thanks to Spain's unpopular participation in the war on Iraq -- which had afforded Aznar a moment of grandeur in a famous photo alongside Bush and Blair in the Azores.
That time it was terrorism; now it is corruption
So then we watched the grotesque show put on by the interior minister, Ángel Acebes, in successive press conferences, maintaining against all evidence that ETA was behind the attack. Those who dissented from the official version were called reds, cranks, traitors, etc. The investigations went on, the evidence piled up, the cellphones, the call center in Lavapiés... Data were confirmed, the puzzle put together. But Acebes brazenly stuck to his story, at the service of the self-interested lie. The prime minister in person called up the newspapers to repeat this ever more unsustainable version. Even on March 14, ministerial telegrams instructed our ambassadors abroad to repeat the line that ETA did it. This is how the Popular Party earned its electoral defeat in 2004.
The situation is different now, but a common factor takes us back nine years: the lying. Now it is corruption, one of the most obvious cases being that of Gürtel-Bárcenas. Recent years have seen many PP scandals, leading up to that of Francisco Correa, the elegant gent last seen at the ostentatious quasi-state wedding (largely at public expense) of Aznar's daughter. Correa was running the Gürtel corruption scheme in collusion with Luis Bárcenas. This man had been appointed party treasurer by the party president, Mariano Rajoy -- who has ventured to say that there will never be any proof against him, and even vouched for his impeccable conduct in relieving him in 2010.
Now, after long delays, we get an answer to a judicial request in Switzerland, revealing at least 22 million euros in the ex-treasurer's personal account. Instead of looking into the origin of the fortune, the PP's reaction to this fortune is to claim that it has nothing to do with these funds. As if Bárcenas had squirreled it away in his spare moments, while he was working full time as treasurer of the PP.