Spain's socialists defeated the conservative government in the general election last night, delivering a serious blow to the American-led war on terror.
The government was swept from power amid public disenchantment with its policy on Iraq and its conduct following the Madrid train bombings, in which 200 people were killed and 1,400 injured. It persisted in blaming the Basque extremist group Eta.
Now there are growing indications that al-Qa'eda bombers carried out the Madrid massacre in an attempt to influence the election result.
The government conceded defeat as the Socialist Workers' Party and its radical allies easily won a majority of seats in the 350-member Cortes.
With 99.4 per cent of the votes counted, the Socialists led the ruling People's Party by 42.6 per cent to 37.7 per cent. This would give them 164 seats to 148 for the PP. Turnout was 77 per cent.
Prime minister Jose Maria Aznar's party had been well ahead in opinion polls.
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Socialist leader, said: "My most immediate priority is to beat all forms of terrorism," after asking for a minute's silence for the victims.
The Socialists have promised to withdraw 1,300 Spanish troops from Iraq.
Don't flinch in fight against terror, warns White House
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