TCS Daily

On the Question of Foreign Support

By Pejman Yousefzadeh - March 26, 2004 12:00 AM

MADRID, Spain -- Still stinging from his party's defeat at the hands of the Socialists, Spanish Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy is seeking to rally supporters in advance of upcoming political confrontations with the ruling Socialists, led by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, by telling faithful members of the Popular Party that their cause and stance is supported abroad -- especially in the cyberspace community known as "the Blogosphere."

Although he did not give specifics, Mr. Rajoy said he had received words of support from bloggers abroad who encouraged him to continue the fight against the policies of the Socialists.

"I've met foreign bloggers -- and even some bloggers in Spain -- along with non-blogging writers, who can't go out and say this publicly, but boy they look at you and say, 'You've got to win this, you've got to beat this guy, we can't have these policies,' things like that," he said.

The specific policies these bloggers and writers object to, according to Mr. Rajoy, include the decision by the Spanish government to pull out its troops from Iraq by the middle of this year unless the United Nations takes over. According to Mr. Rajoy, and these bloggers and writers, the foreign policy positions of the new Spanish government smack of appeasement and stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation in Iraq. For example, Mr. Rajoy notes that Prime Minister Zapatero has called the current occupation of Iraq a "disaster", despite the fact that Iraqis themselves generally seem to approve of the occupation.

Repeated attempts by the Socialists to try to get Mr. Rojas to name his foreign supporters have failed. Indeed, the issue has turned contentious at times for the Spanish opposition leader. At a town meeting, Mr. Rojas was repeatedly challenged to name his cyberspace supporters by an audience member.

"I'm not going to betray a private conversation with anybody," Mr. Rojas said. Addressing the audience member, Mr. Rojas went on to say, "That's none of your business."

Mr. Rojas then tried to turn the tables on his interrogator by contending that he was an interested partisan.

"Are you a Popular Party member or a Socialist -- what are you?" he barked. "You answer the question."

When the questioner admitted he voted for the Socialists in the recent elections, Mr. Rojas triumphantly remarked: "See? Democracy works both ways."

Other independent efforts to try to discover the source of the Popular Party's cyberspace support are afoot, but thus far, no new leads have been discovered. Phone calls to the office of perhaps the most famous blogger -- Glenn Reynolds -- have not been returned, with close associates of Professor Reynolds claiming that he is traveling at the time of the writing of this article. Strangely enough, interns of blogger Andrew Sullivan also declined comment, and when reporters asked for Sullivan himself, they were told that the Cape Cod-based blogger was "on Spring Break." Similarly, blogger Daniel Drezner also begged off from commenting, citing a heavy travel schedule.

Commenting on the sudden -- and in his words, "convenient" -- disappearance of these high-powered bloggers, Prime Minister Zapatero remarked that it was "very interesting" that they could not be gotten a hold of. "I do however wish them all pleasant travels," Mr. Zapatero said. Sources close to the Prime Minister speculated that Reynolds, Sullivan and Drezner may all be vacationing in Madrid, and advising the Popular Party on its post-election political strategy.


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