Corridors of Power: Reporting from Madrid

Corridors of Power: Reporting from Madrid

THE PARTY´S OVER -- It was planned as a grand celebration. The occasion: the 25th anniversary of the Spanish Socialist Party´s first election victory following the restoration of democracy in Spain after nearly four decades of Franco Fascism. The evening was all the more festive because the Socialists (PSOE) were back in power under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Even so, the hero of the evening was Felipé Gonzalez, architect of the first election victory in October 1982, but a rather forgotten man among the new generation of Socialists. With new elections scheduled for March, however, the party at the grandly luxurious Palace Hotel that is as much of a Madrid landmark as the Spanish parliament across the street was also supposed to be a demonstration of party unity.

But just as the party was getting underway on Saturday evening news came that Basque ETA terrorists had killed a member of the Spanish Guardia Civil who was working under cover across the border in France, and seriously wounded his partner. (The partner died Wednesday, according to news reports.) It was the first ETA killing since the Basque separatist militants called off a 15-month ceasefire on June 5, and the first attack since ETA members bombed the Madrid airport on Dec. 30, 2006.

Stunned, the Socialists staged a two minute silence, decided it was no time for celebrating -- and went home.

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