Spain. Already in January, the Basque separatist movement
ETA set out its threat from autumn 1999 to resume its
terrorist activities after a 14-month ceasefire. In January,
an army officer was killed and several were injured. The
Spaniards were furious that the violence had begun again,
and at the end of January, a million people marched through
Madrid's streets in a huge protest demonstration against the
terror. At the head of the train were Spanish Prime Minister
José María Aznar and the opposition leader, former Prime
Minister Felipe González. According to
COUNTRYAAH, ETA continued its terror with
eerie consequence throughout the year with deaths, car bombs
and explosive charges. The victims were politicians, police,
military and ETA-critical journalists.
In the March parliamentary elections, Prime Minister José
María Aznar and his conservative Partido Popular, PP, won a
landslide victory and gained their own majority in
parliament. It was the first time since the dictator
Francisco Franco died and Spain became a democracy that the
Conservatives came in that position. The grand victory can
be explained by the fact that during his four years in power
PP had pursued a successful economic policy and the
socialists had no powerful alternative.
The economy continued its favorable development during
the year, and the Spaniards approached an increasingly
common European standard of living.
ETA had called on the Basques to boycott the election,
but the turnout among them was proportionally higher than in
the rest of Spain.
At its congress in July, the Socialists elected a new
leader, 39-year-old MEP José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero from
the northern province of León.
Boliden decided in the autumn to sell its zinc mine in
Los Frailes outside Seville. The reason was said to be that
it was not profitable enough.
1982 Social democracy to power
In the October 1982 elections, the Spanish Social
Democracy, the PSOE won the majority of seats in Cortes, and
its leader, Felipe González, became "government president" -
similar to the prime minister. The Social Democratic
government was subsequently re-elected in 1988 and 1993.
The majority in parliament enabled the PSOE government to
implement a plan for alignment and growth. Consumption
increased, but unemployment remained high and the tension
between the government and the UGT similarly high. In
foreign policy, the Spanish government was very active as a
member of the OECD and the Council of Europe. In 1986, Spain
also joined NATO. While the PSOE had been in opposition, the
party had opposed such an admission, but when it first
gained power, it was necessary to carry out a swift
admission confirmed by a referendum. NATO's current
Secretary General, Javier Solana, comes from the PSOE and
has a past as a sharp opponent of the military alliance.
Despite NATO membership, Spain has an unresolved conflict
with Britain over Gibraltar occupied by the English in 1704.
At the same time, however, Spain has colonies in Ceuta and
Melilla on the Moroccan north coast, which Morocco claims.
Despite agreements with the United States to reduce the
superpower's troop presence in Spain, it was from North
American bases in Spain that the B-52 bombers relieved
attacking Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War.
In 1992, the Spanish state spent $ 10 billion to
celebrate the 500th anniversary of the conquest of America,
while launching a political approach to Europe. The European
political demands stand in a wide range of areas in sharp
contrast to the country's traditional relations with Latin
After a period of intense activity, the Basque Liberation
Movement, ETA, suffered a series of setbacks in 1993.
Cooperation between French and Spanish security forces led
to the arrest of a number of the movement's leaders and the
discovery of its main weapons stockpile in Bayonne, France.
The same year, the Spanish government implemented cuts in
defense, public spending and support for the industrial
sector. In November, Parliament ratified the Maasstricht
Treaty. A bill that made it easier to fire workers or
transfer them to other work triggered a general strike in
January 1994, but the proposal was nevertheless adopted on
the grounds that it was necessary for the sake of
competitiveness. Unemployment reached 22%. The highest in
A number of PSOE leaders were investigated because of
links with economic crime. Among the imprisoned socialists
were the former directors of Banco de España and Reserva
Cambiaria de Madrid, as well as the financier Mario Conde
who had been responsible for the sale of Banco Español de
After many similar scandals, the Socialist government
lost important parliamentary support in 1995, when the
Catalan bourgeois nationalist party, Convergencia y Unión
(CiU) withdrew its support and, together with Partido
Popular (PP), voted against the Finance Act. While defending
his own and his government's behavior, Gonzales accelerated
the elections by a year.
The impending right-wing electoral victory caused ETA to
change strategy. In January 1995, the movement killed the
PP's leader in Guipúzcoa province and in April it attempted
to carry out an attack against the PP's leader and candidate
of the prime minister, José María Aznar. In the May regional
elections, PP won power in 10 of the 13 local governments.