The change in trends that was observed last month seems to confirm itself, and even to accentuate, this month. Thus, there is an important improvement in the two main economic indicators, the Consumer Sentiment Index, which improves 5 points, and the Evaluation of the Economic Situation of Spain, which improves 8 points. In spite of this improvement, the two indicators continue below the equilibrium level, indicating that there still is a greater sentiment of non-satisfaction and pessimism. Personal Optimism has also improved 4 points this month, and places itself exactly in the equilibrium level, though it has not been above that level for the last eight months. Satisfaction with how Democracy is working in Spain continues to be at a high level and even improves slightly, while Satisfaction with the Government increases 8 points, going beyond the high level reached past December, though it continues to be significantly below the ratings received during the first year of Socialist Government. And Exposure to Information continues below the equilibrium level, though it slightly improves with respect to last month. Therefore, it may be said in general that evaluations of the economy are still somewhat negative, but showing a clear trend to improve during the last two months, and political indicators continue to be rather positive, showing a recovery in the Satisfaction with the Government. These facts jointly probably contribute to explain the increase in the difference in voting estimates between PSOE and PP, which is 4 per cent points this month, two more than last month, reinforcing the trend that was observed then. In summary, after two years of Socialist Government, the power balance between the two major parties is the same than in the last elections of March 2004. The Crown receives again this month the highest rating (6.2 points in a scale 0 to 10), followed by the Armed Forces (5.7 points), the Constitutional Court (5.5), the Supreme Court (5.4), the National Government and the Regional Administration (5.2 in both cases), Courts of Justice , the Central Administration and the Local Administration (5.1 points in all three cases), the Catholic Church (5.0) and the Banks (4.8 points in a scale 0 to 10 points). And, among the public leaders included this month, Princess Letizia receives the highest rating (6.2 points in a scale 0 to 10), followed by Adolfo Suarez (5.8 points) and Felipe González (5.3), who gets a better rating, for the fifth consecutive month, than Rodríguez Zapatero (5.1). The remaining leaders included in this month’s survey receive ratings below 5 points: Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo (4.5), Mariano Rajoy, Gaspar Llamazares, José Mª Aznar, Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez, Artur Mas, Fidel Castro, Carod Rovira, Arnaldo Otegui and Josu Ternera (1.3 points in a scale 0 to 10 points).
The opinions that are reported here were given by Spaniards after knowing that the project of statute had been approved, by a slight majority, in the Spanish Parliament. First, only little more than one third of Spaniards think that the parliamentarian debate has downgraded the aims of the initial project, but one fourth do not think so. Nevertheless, when R was asked if, taking into account the changes made in the statute, he/she would be willing to approve or not approve it, only one third of Rs (33%) said that they would certainly or probably approve it, while exactly the same proportion answered that they would certainly or probably not approve it, the remaining third not giving any answer. Spaniards obviously think that the parties that would benefit more from the final approval of the project of statute are PSC (20%), PSOE (19%), and ERC and CiU (both cited by 18% of Rs). As for the greater or lower identification with the views maintained by the different political parties in the debate on the project of statute, and on the basis of a scale where R had to say whether or not he/she felt very close, closer than farther, farther than closer or very far from the position defended by each party, PSOE is the only party towards which Rs feel closer than farther (and only by a small difference, 34% feeling closer and 29% feeling farther away), but opinions are clearly divided and balanced. Similarly, Rs feel farther from PSC and from PP, even farther from IU, and still farther away from IC-LV and CiU, and the farthest from ERC. Nevertheless, those who feel that the PSOE Government should be rewarded by the electorate in the next elections (32%), due to its implication in pushing ahead the statute, are more numerous than those who think, on the contrary, that it should be penalized at the elections (22%), and those who think the PSOE will be rewarded (29%) outnumber those who think it should be penalized (15%).
ETA’s Cease Fire
Almost half the Spaniards answer they felt happy when they learned about the “permanent cease fire” announcement. But those who said their joy was moderate (31%) outnumber largely those who said that they felt a great joy (18%), so the latter are even outnumbered by those who answered they felt distrust (27%), while 14% felt scepticism and another 7% surprise. But it is very clear that Spaniards do not want to pay any price, political or any other, for ETA’s announcement that they will stop killing. On the basis of a scale 0 to 10 points to evaluate potential counterparts that could be granted to ETA so that it will maintain the cease fire and will abandon violence, in which 0 means that the counterpart should “never” be granted, and 10 means that the counterpart should be granted “as soon as possible”, there is an absolute majority of Spaniards who would never or almost never grant any of the suggested counterparts. Thus, about two thirds of Rs answer that prisoners guilty of “blood crimes” should never be released, and “total independence to the Basque Country” should never be granted. Half the Rs similarly answer that “ETA prisoners should never be granted help in order to find a job or start a business”, neither “should Batasuna be legalized”. Only slightly less than 50% answer that the right to “self determination of the Basque Country” or “allowing the Basque Country to annex Navarra” should never be granted. The only measures that are less rejected, though rejection predominates clearly over acceptance, are those that refer to “approaching ETA prisoners to the Basque Country” and “to favour releasing prisoners not guilty of “blood crimes”, though more than one third of Rs state that these two measures should never be granted. In order to demonstrate even in more detail to what degree all these measures are rejected, it suffices to mention that the average in the 0 to 10 points scale does never reach above 3.3 points, and only the “rapprochement of ETA prisoners” reaches the mentioned average of 3.3 points. All other average measures are below 3 points, to the point that five out of the eight measures are below 2 points. One third of Spaniards think that PSOE is the party that would benefit more from a hypothetical definitive “farewell to arms” on the part of ETA, and only 14% belief that the main beneficiary would be Batasuna, but 38% do not give an opinion on this issue. 46% of Rs think that the electorate should reward some or very much the PSOE Government in the next elections for its implication in the plan to finish with violence in the Basque Country, and 44% think that the electorate will actually do so. But only 12% and 7% respectively belief that the electorate should penalize the PSOE Government in the next elections or that it will actually do so. On another question, slightly more than half the Rs say that “the weakness of ETA should be taken as an advantage to put an end to terrorist violence even if that means making some concessions”, as against 39% who mention that “one cannot negotiate at all with ETA, and even less making any concessions”. (The apparent contradiction between the answer to this question and the answers given to specific counterparts mentioned above is something usual, in that people give clearer cut answers to specific rather than to general questions). There is neither a generalized agreement regarding how to interpret the “cease fire”, since 31% think that “the cease fire will be definitive”, 21% think “it will last only enough to obtain the release of some prisoners and in order to obtain legalization of Batasuna so that it can participate in the next regional elections”, and another 23% think that “it will only be useful to ETA so that it may reorganize itself and may start killing whenever they see fit”.