Sunday, February 20, 2005

The people have spoken... (not)

Provisional results in from the Spanish referendum give 79 percent to the "yes" campaign, with 16 percent voting "no" – according to an exit poll carried out by state television. Interestingly, about five percent of votes cast were blank

Hailed as an "overwhelming victory", the turnout paints a different picture, estimated at 41.5 percent. That means that just under a third of Spain's 35 million voters endorsed the constitution.

For Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, this result is something of a rebuff. He had staked his reputation on a high turnout, looking for at least fifty percent to make the vote credible.

In fact, at four percentage points less than the turnout at the June Euro-elections, Zapatero's credibility has not exactly improved, especially as his pre-poll speech verged on the hysterical when he appealed to voters to participate with the words:

Today we are taking a decision of huge importance for the future of a united Europe. A very important decision for Spain, for its future and well-being.
Mindful of the first Article (I-1) of the constitution, which states: "Reflecting the will of the citizens and states of Europe to build a common future…", it rather looks as though the Zapatero was willing but two thirds of the people went AWOL.

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