Madrid was on the highest of security alerts on Friday for the country’s national holiday military parade. ETA, the armed basque terrorist group, is again on the warpath but a big police presence deterred any attempt to upstage King Juan Carlos and the country’s political leaders. The King issued a rare personal response to the refusal in the Basque country and Catalonia to fly the Spanish flag from public buildings, and the burning of his effigy in Catalonia. However, the people of Madrid saved their ire for the prime minister.
Jeers and whistles greeted Mr Zapatero, who must now realise nationalist sentiments are going to play a big role in the general election in five months time. The opposition has made much out of Zapateros’ attempt to negotiate with ETA, and have branded him weak, and his peace initiative a failure.
They accuse him of pandering to regional ambitions for political gain, and are attempting to corner national unity values for themselves. Zapatero’s administration has attempted to satisfy local aspirations while maintaining strong central institutions, but the conservatives claim the left is breaking up the country.