ASEP’s Indicators’ SystemLast months’ climate of unsatisfied and pessimist public opinion continues, even more acute, as has been ascertained month after month. The main economic indicators reached historical low levels at the end of 2008, but they initiated a slight recovery along 2009 with small fluctuations, implying a relatively clear trend towards slightly better future national economic perspectives, though data still continue to show a very negative evaluation of both, marked by dissatisfaction and pessimism. The secular trend since the 2008 elections, to be more precise, since the 2004 elections, regarding the three main economic indicators (Consumer Sentiment, Evaluation of the National Economic Situation and Personal Optimism), has been that of remaining very much below the equilibrium level. The general perception of Spaniards about the economic situation is the worst since the end of 1993, though there may be fluctuations from one month to the next. The three mentioned indicators are very similar, but slightly worst, than those of the previous survey last May. Indicators on saving are also similar to those of last May, and they are in the lowest levels of the last twelve months. The proportions of households that are getting in debt (5%) or spending their savings (10%) are increasing, though the proportion of those who save a little has also increased by one percent point (26%). Satisfaction with the Quality of Life continues at a high level, but much lower than what has been usual during the last decades. As for the index of post-materialism, it increases this month to 37%, and though that implies a significant recovery with respect to previous months, they remain at a low level of personal and economic security, something that seems to suggest a return to materialistic values. Religious values vary very little not just along years, but decades, and they continue at the level of 1.9 points, an evaluation that begins to be usual, since that has been the level during the last eleven surveys. Analysis of political indicators suggests that Satisfaction with how Democracy is working continues below the level of 130 since the end of 2009. Satisfaction with the Government has continued to deteriorate, reaching a minimum of 50 in this survey (in the scale 0 to 200 points), that is, a third of the evaluation obtained immediately after the 2004 elections (when it reached 150 points). As for the indicators measuring the ideological centre of gravity and national-regional sentiment, both remain in their usual levels, that is, between the centre and the centre-left and in the sentiment of sharing without problems the Spanish and regional identities. For the fourth consecutive time in many years, the sum of the proportions who position themselves ideologically in the centre of right (41% this month) is greater than the proportion of those who position themselves in the left (39%). The loss of electoral weight of the PSOE and nationalist parties would seem to confirm this small change in the two cited indicators, so that for the fourth consecutive month the so called “direct” voting intentions (without any estimation at all) show that PP is ahead of PSOE.
Only one institution receives this month an evaluation higher than 5 points: the Armed Forces. The ranking this month is the following: Armed Forces (5.5 points on a scale 0 to 10), The Crown (4.9), the Ombudsman and the Municipality (4.4 points each), Constitutional Court (4.3), Catholic Church (3.9), Senate and Business Organizations (3.7 each), Congress (3.6), Labour Unions (3.2), Banks and the Government of Spain (3.0), and Political Parties (2.9 points in the scale 0 to 10 points). With respect to public leaders, all ratings this month are much lower than in preceding months. This month’s ranking is the following: King Juan Carlos (5.1 points in the scale 0 to 10 points), Prince Philip (5.0), Princess Letizia (4.7), Felipe Gonzalez (4.4), Ruiz Gallardon (3.9), Jose Bono and Carme Chacon (3.7), Esperanza Aguire (3.6), Rubalcaba and Rosa Diez (3.5), Jose Mª Aznar (3.2), Mariano Rajoy (3.1), and Cayo Lara and Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (2.8 in the scale 0 to 10 points). This month’s voting intention for the next national legislative elections shows a clear victory of PP over PSOE, 10,5 percent points difference over the total electorate, which if maintained would mean the greatest defeat ever for the PSOE, much greater than the one just suffered in the recent municipal elections (only six points difference) and only a little lower than the defeat suffered at the recent regional elections (12 percent points , always over the total electorate). The estimated vote for PP is again higher than PSOE’s, so that even taking account of any margin of error one wants to consider, there is no doubt about the electoral sinking of the PSOE at present, something that does not prejudge the outcome of the next general elections. All the indicators that are taking into account to elaborate the voting estimate suggest that, when the research was run, even PSOE voters were critical of their Government and its President, Rodríguez Zapatero, in particular. Thus, when the rating of Zapatero is compared with that of other four leaders of PSOE only among PSOE voters, results show that he is the one with the worst rating (4,5 points on the scale 0 to 10), five decimal points less than Carme Chacón, six decimal points less than Rubalcaba and Bono, and 17 decimal points less than Felipe Gonzalez. This is a really unique and surprising situation.
The Regional and Local Elections of May 22, 2011
With respect to the past May 22 elections, R’s have been asked about their degree of satisfaction with the results of the said elections. Thus, and regarding local (municipal) elections, data suggest similar proportions of those who are satisfied (35%) and those who are unsatisfied (32%), and another proportion very similar (33%) who do not give an opinion on this matter.
Similar opinions are observed regarding regional elections. The unsatisfied are just a little more (36%) than the satisfied (33%), and that those who do not give an opinion (31%).
Types of Government and Democracy
Spaniards were asked about their preferences regarding four types of government, a common question on international comparative surveys. The four types of government are those of a strong leader who doesn’t have to worry about Parliament or electoral results (who is, so to speak, above them both), the government of a group of experts, a military government, or a democratic political regime. Though many national and international surveys, previous ASEP surveys in particular, have demonstrated that Spaniards prefer almost unanimously a democratic regime, it is never superfluous to confirm it, as the results of this survey demonstrate. In fact, 90% of R’s in this research say that it is very good or rather good to have a democratic political regime. A majority also considers good to have a government of experts (49%), and larger majorities consider bad or very bad to have a government based on a strong leader who would not have to worry about Parliament or electoral results (52%), or a military government (85%). Taking into account that Spaniards prefer almost unanimously a democratic regime, it seemed appropriate to ask them about which is the essential characteristic of a democracy. Almost half of the R’s answered (43%) that the essential requisite of a democracy is “to be able to vote in freedom”. And the second most mentioned characteristic (16%) is that of the existence of several political parties. A question was also posed about the preferred way to elect the President of Government. Results show a very diverse public opinion in this issue, since while 44% prefer to continue with the present system, 40% would prefer to elect directly the President of Government. Similarly, Rs were asked about their preferences for the electoral system to elect deputies to Congress. One out of every four Rs did not answer the question, something not strange when considering that answering this question requires a detailed knowledge about the advantages and disadvantages of different electoral systems. Only 3% of Rs prefer a “single electoral district” like in European elections, that is, that Spain is only one electoral district, so that lists will be national, not by province as now. And only 5% of Rs would prefer the “personal electoral district”, that is, that Spain be divided not in 52 districts as now, but in 350 (which is the present number of seats in Congress) and that each of them will elect only one representative. The remaining two thirds are distributed into four similar proportions. The largest proportion (18%) prefers that everything continues like now, that is, “lists of candidates prepared by parties and closed”. But 17% would prefer “lists of candidates prepared by parties, but with the possibility of deleting names”, and 15% would prefer “lists of candidates prepared by parties, but with the possibility of adding names”, or “lists of candidates prepared by parties, but with the possibility of deleting names and adding others in their place. In other words, 18% would prefer the present system of lists prepared by parties and closed, against 47% who would prefer open lists that permit deleting or adding names.
Memory of Francoism and the Civil War
Taking into account that in July 2011 it is the 75th anniversary of Franco’s uprising and the beginning of a Civil War, and that this year is also the 20th anniversary that ASEP conducted a survey, through project CIRES, that included a module of questions on the Civil War (www.jdsurvey.net CIRES collection, survey 6/1991 on Political and Economic Culture), it was decided to include in this June 2011 survey some questions to replicate those of 20 years ago, with the purpose of measuring to what degree Spaniards’ opinions about that historic event might have changed. First, Rs were asked about their opinion on Franco’s performance. 63% thought that Franco’s performance was negative, while 11% evaluated it as positive. Results in the 1991 survey were 40% negative and 20% positive. In the present survey, but not in 1991, only Rs who were 54 years and over (who were at least 18 years when Franco died in 1975),were asked about the sentence that best describes their life under the Franco regime. Rs were offered five possible answers so that they might choose the one that best describes their experience., One third (32%) of these Rs who are now 54 years or over selected the sentence: “that regime was a dictatorship, but if you didn’t get involved in politics nothing happened to you”, but other answers are more critical, so that 19% say that they “lived worst than now, and besides they feared the police and to be taken to jail”, and 17% answer that “had a bad time because lack of political freedoms and because of bad economic situation”. Other answers are less critical, however, so that 7% answer that “being a dictatorship they could not vote, but they had other freedoms”, and even a minority of 12% answer that “to say the truth, though it was a dictatorship, they lived better than now and never had any problem”. Five other questions asked in 1991 have been replicated in this survey, to evaluate the Franco regime through a five categories scale measuring agreement or disagreement with each sentence. One may observe a high degree of agreement with four of the five sentences, and a very high and similar disagreement in both surveys, regarding the statement that “politicians today should talk more about the Spanish Civil War”. Regarding the four sentences with which there is agreement, it is very high in both surveys with respect to “Spaniards are today different from what they were at that time; at present, a civil war would be unthinkable”. And, though there is clear agreement regarding the other three sentences in both surveys, it is evident that agreement was higher in 1991 than now in 2011, that is, agreement now is lower than it was 20 years ago. Agreement refers to the following statements: “Civil War was so terrible that it is better to forget about it than to continue talking about it”, “it is an event that belongs to the past and which has lost interest nowadays”, and “both sides were, more or less, equally responsible for the atrocities of the war”.
Technical data: National stratified sample by region and size of habitat, random selection of municipalities and census sections (about 130 sampling points), random routes and final selection of respondent in the household based on stratification by sex and age. A total of 1,110 face-to-face interviews were obtained at respondent’s home from June 17 to 27, 2011. Research direction: ASEP.