Spaniards’ opinion about how the economy is doing has deteriorated this month, both at the personal and especially at the national level, as seems to be shown by the fall of four and seven points respectively on the Consumers’ Sentiment Index and the Evaluation of the Spanish Economy Index, as well as the fall of four points too on the Personal Optimism Index. Therefore, the three indicators continue to be significantly below the equilibrium level, suggesting that there are more dissatisfied and pessimist citizens than satisfied and optimist ones. Political indicators, on the contrary, are relatively stable and clearly above the equilibrium level, though Satisfaction with how Democracy is working is much higher than Satisfaction with the Government. And Exposure to Information is at the equilibrium level, improving slightly also with respect to last month. Consequently, there seems to be no significant changes in the climate of opinion, except maybe the new deterioration of indicators that measure confidence in the economy. Maybe that explains also the small –though significant– change observed in voting estimate, as the small change that is observed goes in the direction of reducing the difference between PSOE and PP, such that the difference of 4.1 percent points observed in April, is reduced till 2.8 percent points now in May. Thus, at mid-legislature, the similar electoral support shown by the two main national parties is even greater than in past elections, since the difference between them is now smaller than two years ago. The Crown receives again this month the highest evaluation (6.4 points on a scale 0 to 10 points) jointly with the European Union, and they are both followed by the United Nations (5.8), the Armed Forces (5.7), the National Government (5.3), NATO (5.2) and Banks (4.9 points on a scale 0 to 10 points). As regards public leaders included this month, Felipe Gonzalez and Jose Bono receive this month the highest evaluation (5.6 points on a scale 0 to 10 points), followed by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (5.3) and Mª Teresa Fernández de Vega (5.0). All other public leaders included in this month’s survey receive ratings below 5 points: Jose Antonio Alonso and Pedro Solbes (4.7), Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, Rosa Díez, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Alfonso Guerra, Carmen Calvo, Miguel Angel Moratinos, Gaspar Llamazares, Mariano Rajoy and José Mª Aznar (3.4 points on a scale 0 to 10 points).
Once more the question about the most important problems facing Spain at present has been asked. Each R could mention a maximum of three problems, and as usual, the most cited problem continues to be unemployment, mentioned by 45% of Spaniards, followed by housing (35%), immigration (28%), pensions (21%) and terrorism (19%). The most important change refers to terrorism, which has usually occupied the second position and this month is in the fifth place. Similarly, immigration, which was not among the four main cited problems before, appears now in second place.
Rating of the different Autonomous Communities
This is the eighth time since 1994 that ASEP has asked about the ratings that Spaniards make about inhabitants of the different Autonomous Communities. The evaluation, on a scale 0 to 10 points, is generally high in all cases, usually above 7 points, and that has also been the case this month. The best rated Spaniards have always been, and this month too, Andalusians, who obtain a rating of 7.7 points, while the lowest ratings, below 7 points, are given to Valencians (6.0), Basques (6.4) and Catalans (6.2). Catalans and Basques have been, in all eight available surveys, the least valued of them all, though only in two occasions (November 2000 and February 2004) it was the Basques, and no Catalans, who received the worst evaluations.
Reform of Autonomous Communities’ Statutes
72% of Rs prefer their Autonomous Community to be called precisely that: Autonomous Community, and proportions below 10% in each case would prefer to be identified as nation, region, nationality, national community, principality, kingdom, national reality, country, foral community, etc. At present, 25% of Spaniards would vote in favour of the Catalonian statute, and 22% would vote in favour of the Valencian statute, but 41% would vote against the Catalan statute and 31% would vote against Valencian statute. On the other hand, 31% believe that the new Catalan statute implies a hidden reform of the Spanish Constitution, but 28% think that it is fully constitutional (the remaining 41% does not give any opinion). Fieldwork for this survey was conducted before the removal of ERC from the tripartite government of Catalonia, but when it had already announced its intention to vote “no” in the referendum on the statute. 39% of Rs thought that this decision would cause the dissolution of the tripartite government (as against 14% who did not think so), and 37% thought similarly that the dissolution would imply calling for advanced elections in Catalonia (as against 16% who did not belief in that consequence). More than two thirds of Spaniards (69%) state that “there is only one nation in Spain, the Spanish nation”, while 18% believe that Spain as well as some Autonomous Communities deserve the name of nations, and only 2% think that some Autonomous Communities are nations, but not Spain. Regarding the territorial organization of the State, and confirming the results obtained at different dates since 1996, half the Spaniards (50%) think that everything must remain as up to now, against 12% who would prefer a Common Administration, 10% would rather wish a Federal State, and only 2% think that Autonomous Communities that so wish should have the right to become independent states separated from Spain. But the proportion of those who would prefer that the Spanish Government recovers competences already transferred to the Autonomous Communities has increased till 11%.
ETA’s Cease Fire
More than one out of three Rs (36%) believe that ETA’s cease fire will be final, but 25% think that it will only result in ETA reorganizing itself and getting ready to kill whenever it is convenient for it, while 19% thinks that it will only last until their members in prison are set free and Batasuna is legalized so that it can run for the next elections. By comparison with April data, the proportion of those who think that “one has to take advantage of ETA’s weakness to put an end to its terrorist violence even if that implies some concessions” has decreased till 44%, while the proportion who thinks that “one cannot negotiate at all with ETA, least make concessions” has increased to 38%. On the basis of a scale 0 to 10 points to evaluate the potential counterparts that could be granted to ETA so that it keeps the cease fire and abandons violence, in which 0 means that no counterpart should be ever 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 counterpart. Results are almost identical to those of April, even more reluctant to grant any counterpart, so that the average in the scale 0 to 10 points does not go over 3.2 points in any case. All other averages are below 3 points, and even six out of eight measures are not higher than 2 points. Nevertheless, 42% of Rs believe that ETA is really implementing the cease fire, and 52% agree that “to finish with ETA’s violence there should be no victors nor vanquished”. But public opinion is very much divided with respect to its evaluation of Rodriguez Zapatero’s government’s policy to end with ETA’s violence, since 33% say they agree with it, but 37% disagree with that policy.
National Government’s Performance
45% of Spaniards think that Bono resigned because he was in disagreement with Rodríguez Zapatero, as against 19% who think that it was Zapatero who decided its dismissal because he was fed up with him. On the other hand, 45% of Rs prefer a PSOE government with Zapatero as President, as against 17% who would prefer a PP government led by Rajoy, 10% who would prefer a PSOE government led by somebody different from Zapatero, and 5% who would prefer a PP government led by somebody different from Rajoy. Besides, while 12% of Rs think that Zapatero could call for anticipated elections, 19% would wish he would do so.
57% of Spaniards think that no more Spanish troops should be sent to Afghanistan, and an additional 20% think that not only no more troops should be sent, but also that Spanish troops already in Afghanistan should be brought back. As regards Iraq, 68% of Rs think that the situation in that country is now worst or much worst than before US and allies’ intervention. Regarding the nuclear crisis with Iran, 34% of Rs think that it wants to continue with its nuclear program because it wants to defend itself from a potential attack from another country (and out of them, 73% believe that the country from which Iran wants to defend itself is the United States), 22% think that Iran wants to follow up because of economic reasons (to produce electric energy), and only 10% think that they want to follow in order to attack another country (the most cited are the United States and Israel, mentioned by more than one third of those Rs). 35% of Rs think that the United States will end up intervening militarily in Iran without any nuclear weapons, 25% think that it will impose economic sanctions but without any military intervention, and 12% even think that it will bomb Iran with nuclear weapons. However, when one goes from expectations to desires, 40% would wish that the United States tries to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear program but without any threats, military or economic, but offering compensatory grants, and only 31% would wish that economic sanctions are imposed but without any economic or military intervention. But expectations and desires with respect to what the European Union should do are more conciliatory, as more than one fourth of Rs believe that the EU will impose economic sanctions but without any military intervention, and another similar proportion think that it will provide counterparts. And about half (49%) wish that the EU offers counterparts, while only 18% wish that the EU would impose economic sanctions. Finally, 28% of Rs think that the United States is the country that best represents the largest danger for peace in the world at present, 13% believes that it is Iraq, and 12% think mention Iran. In a similar way, 14% of Rs think that Morocco is the country that best represents the greatest danger to Spain, followed by Iraq (12%) and the United States (11%).