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Europe

European Press Review: Terrorism and Elections

The threat of international terrorism and its influence on the Spanish parliamentary election continued to dominate European newspaper editorials on Tuesday.

The terrorists have changed the course of an election campaign, argued Britain’s The Independent, adding that the swing in favor of Spain’s socialist party in the aftermath of the bombings in Madrid was as shocking as the tragedy itself. No elected government immediately lost power as a result of what happened in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, the paper stated, adding that in this sense, March 11, 2004 was an even bigger coup for the terrorists.

Kommersant from Moscow agreed, saying that the change in power in Spain sets an extremely disturbing and dangerous precedent. It is, the paper believes, a clear victory for international terrorism, which has left its mark on politics in a western country. Less people were killed in the Spanish tragedy than on September 11 in the United State, the paper concluded -- but it believes it is becoming evident that the bombings in Madrid will have stronger repercussions worldwide.

France’s Le Figaro suggested that the Madrid bombings force a new situation on Europe and the United States, and pointed out that the idea that terrorism can set such a trap for democracy can certainly not be tolerated. Terrorism has

won, the paper concluded - unfortunately.

It has become obvious, said the Bulgarian paper Sega, that global terrorists have no qualms about taking revenge on every country that forms an alliance with the United States. But it’s not the well- protected governments that are the targets, the paper wrote – it’s the vulnerable people.

Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung came to the same conclusion: the new type of terrorists, the paper wrote, choose “soft” targets – namely regular citizens. No one, the paper said, can protect department stores or cafes in lively

downtown areas, and even a highly-armed state like Israel can’t prevent bombs from blowing up in buses and restaurants.

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung from Switzerland pointed out that, in view of the continuing shock and fear following the bombings, Zapatero’s election victory lacks luster. He will now have to prove, the paper said, that he might have deserved it without the help of terrorists.