Zapatero's looking for a fight

With the legislative elections in Spain drawing near, Zapatero shouldn’t really be giving away his campaign strategy. But he didn't know his was being filmed! . After the interview on Cuatro Televisión. Published on YouTube 14 Feb. 08


Both the US and Spain are in the process of choosing a new president. But while ‘change' seems to have become the "in" word for the American primaries, across the Atlantic in Spain, where elections will be held on March 9, it's ‘tension' that everyone's talking about. The concept was even launched by the president himself. On February 11 on an off-air TV set with presenter Iñaki Gabilondo, José Luis Zapatero admitted he thought tension was doing good for his campaign. He didn't know that his microphone was turned on, and the phrase is now a popular internet hit. The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) candidate has since explained, on the Onda Caro radio station, that "you need electoral tension to activate the electorate". But it was too late. The Popular Party has already profited from these words. Once again, the internet is playing its part in election campaigns. A white-lie, a bad joke or a slight exaggeration doesn't go unnoticed these days, and can soon run a campaign into the ground (see also our selection of videos during the US primaries).

“The Spanish don’t want tension or drama”

Comment from José Luis Ayllón, member of parliament for the Popular Party:

The video reveals a lot about the PSOE's campaign. Zapatero doesn't have a statement of accounts for his government and no strategy for his electorate. Consequently, he decided that the whole campaign and party would be based on insulting and discrediting the opposition. He said it himself when he thought the microphones were off. He calls it ‘tension' and ‘drama'. But the Spanish people don't want tension, nor drama, nor a government that is busy with these preoccupations. We want political change and a head of state who's committed to the real problems of the people."


“The right will do whatever they can to discredit Zapatero”

Comment from Covadonga D'Lom Suárez, a supporter of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE):

When Zapatero said to Gabilondo that he wanted to raise the tension, he was talking about the debate. The head of state doesn't want the presenter to be scared of asking him certain questions. On the contrary, Zapatero wants an open conversation so that he can express his ideas easily and entrust the electorate. That's the only tension he's talking about. In any case, Zapatero wouldn't want the atmosphere of the debate to be awkward, aggressive or unpleasant. The right will use anything to make Zapatero look bad. They use the mirror technique: they attribute their own strategy of tension to him to create a false image of reality.

Zapatero wouldn't want to make the debate awkward but rather tense, so that he can fight against voter apathy among the liberal electorate who think the game is already won. In the past, Zapatero has not always been firm enough. But I think he's come to realise now that his supporters want to see a more aggressive attitude from him in response to the absurd claims the right are coming out with. They seem to think that Spain is about to go up in a puff of smoke."

"The tensions are doing us good"

After an interview with Iñaki Gabilondo on channel Cuatro Televisión (owned by left-leaning Grupo Prisa), the presenter asked Zapatero off-air "How are you doing in the polls?" "Good, it's going well" Zapatero replied, "In fact I think the tensions are doing us good. From next week I'm going to start heating things up a bit more, we're doing well from it."