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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 March, 2004, 13:44 GMT
Spain press at odds over election
Spanish newspapers after the bombings
Spain's papers are unanimous at least in calling for a large turnout

Spain's leading newspapers are calling for a massive voter turnout in Sunday's general elections after Thursday's devastating bombings which left 200 dead in the capital, Madrid.

While pro-government newspapers warn the opposition about seeking to exploit the tragedy for electoral advantage, those taking a more independent line or backing the socialists (in opposition) tend to be less partisan, although the government comes in for some criticism.

"More than ever: To the polls, citizens", cries the pro-socialist El Pais.

Filling the urns is the best way of confronting those who seek to impose death on this society's desire for life
El Pais

"We are living in exceptional times. These days will show how we react to such an unprecedented, unexpected and inhuman act of aggression.

"Today, three days after the massacre, millions of Spaniards can respond to the terrorist provocation by exercising their right to vote. Filling the urns is the best way of confronting those who seek to impose death on this society's desire for life."

El Pais believes that "a massive turnout will reinforce the legitimacy of both the government which emerges and the opposition, allowing a united front against this challenge".

'Grave crisis'

The independent El Mundo calls for the ruling right-wing Popular Party (PP) and the socialists to form a government of national unity if neither gains a clear majority.

The daily argues that "in the light of such a grave crisis, it might have been prudent to have postponed today's vote".

"It would be naive not to acknowledge that the result would have been different on a normal election day."

The result is unpredictable. But if there is no clear winner, the PP and the socialists should form a national unity government
El Mundo

El Mundo praises the Spanish people, which it believes provided "an admirable example of civic responsibility and morality" and gave the "overwhelmed government" a lesson in how to behave in a crisis.

"Today, with their massive turnout at the polls, the Spanish people can add a further page to their annals of resistance.

"The result is unpredictable. But if there is no clear winner, the PP and the socialists should form a national unity government whose priority would be to get to the bottom the attacks and return the country to normality."

Disdain

The pro-government ABC praises the government of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar for "behaving in an efficient and transparent manner" after the bombings and blames the left for seeking to sow confusion over which terrorist group bears responsibility.

"The Spanish know that their main enemy is the separatist terrorism of ETA, even though there could be, and there are, others."

Insidious accusations that the government tried to hide details, which are used for electoral purposes
La Razon

Spaniards have long clamoured for national reconciliation, ABC says, and "those parties and political leaders who are incapable of recognising this clamour and seek to confuse citizens in order to gain electoral advantage will be paid back with popular disdain".

Another pro-government daily, La Razon, similarly hails the government investigation into the attacks.

"We can go to the polls without the uncertainty of not knowing who wanted to kill us.

"We can thank the government for its sincerity and for providing citizens with speedy information, in line with the importance of the electoral moment."

La Razon attacks "the insidious accusations that the government tried to hide details, which are used for electoral purposes".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




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