Parliament did not have long to wait before that impression was reinforced by the leader of the opposition, Manuel Rajoy. He laid into Zapatero and the Socialists, accusing the prime minister of having made not one, but two crucial errors: “As Confuscious said, ‘the man who makes a mistake and does not correct it commits an even greater one’. That has been Mr. Zapatero’s case. Everything he tells us is all well and good, but we have come here to tell the truth, and that that truth is that we are faced with an historical failure that the prime minister does not want to recognise,” he said.
“His second mistake was to think terrorism can be resolved by negotiations. This has never happened, anywhere. You do not negotiate with terrorists. All the accumulated experience of the 20th century, around the planet, supports my position, and has shown that either we smash terrorism or it makes us suffer. There is no alternatives, no short-cuts, and no magic potions,” he added.
Zapatero hit back by saying the opposition was denying his government its support, unlike the Socialists, who rallied round the conservatives when they fought ETA in office.