This is a sad day for democracy. Far from not allowing Thursday's train bombings in Madrid to affect life in Spain in any way, the Spanish electorate yesterday rose up and ousted the centre-right government in favour of the socialist party. On Wednesday evening last week that seemed like only the remotest of possibilities. Last week's act of terror has changed the direction of politics in Spain.
Al Qaeda will, of course, see this as a major victory. After all, who's going to say this wasn't one of their major aims? The timing of the attacks, just days before a general election, is hardly likely to be coincidental. Al Qaeda has gained its 'revenge' on the Spanish government that supported the war in Iraq to the extent that the prime minister-elect has said that one of his first actions will be to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.
It can be argued that Al Qaeda don't really care about the war in Iraq and are only using it as a means to justify their acts of terror. That may be true but in the end it's not really important. What is important is if Al Qaeda think they can affect the democratic processes in western countries in this way, they may well try it again.