The 2004 Spanish Elections: Unpopular Foreign Policy and the Fall of the Popular Party


On March 11, 2004 Spain suffered one of the worst terrorist attacks in its history. At three separate stations throughout Madrid, ten bombs exploded on commuter trains filled with morning rush-hour passengers. Three days later, Spain held a national parliamentary election, where the Spanish people voted out Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and his Popular Party government in favor of the Socialist Party (PSOE).

The downfall of the conservative Popular Party, who had been expected to win a third term in government, was not only a result of the train bombings and the way Aznar' s government handled them, but also of the foreign policy stances Aznar made as Prime Minister. Aznar's alliance with the United States during the invasion of Iraq was unpopular with an overwhelming majority of Spanish citizens. This study explores the historical relationships between Spain and the United States and Spain and its Western European neighbors ranging from the Franco dictatorship (1939-1975), through the PSOE government (1982-1996). Spaniards distrust the United States because the United States had given aid to Franco and his authoritarian regime. As opposed to the policies of the PSOE, who tried to built a closer relationship with Western Europe, Aznar' s policies were seen as a reversal back to the Francoist period. The conclusion of this study is that governments are held accountable for the way in which they address foreign policy matters. However, Aznar's Popular Party was still expected to win the 2004 election, and probably would have had it not been for the gross mishandling of the commuter train bombing situtation.


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Thesis Completion





Hamann, Kerstin


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program

Political Science


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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