There are few variations this month on most indicators, something that is frequent in June and July, when many Spaniards are already thinking about their summer vacations, and when as a result they reject any thought that may spoil their rest and leisure. There is a slight increase in the two main economic indicators, Consumer Sentiment and Evaluation of the National Economic Situation, an increase that was already observed in June, but which does not prevent both indicators to continue below the equilibrium level. Personal Optimism also increases slightly and is one point above the equilibrium level, a level never reached....precisely since July 2005. On the contrary, the two indicators on savings suffer a significant decrease, suggesting Spaniards’ difficulties to maintain their consumption level. Maybe that explains the significant decrease in Satisfaction with the Quality of Life (six points in only one month), though this indicator remains at a very high level, as usual. The proportion of post-materialists decreases again this month, reaching the lowest level during the last twelve months, confirming our comments during the past few months, in the sense that Spaniards return to be worried mainly about their security (economic and personal). Satisfaction with how Democracy is working and with the Government suffer slight loses of one point each, but both continue at very high levels, especially the one about Democracy, and political alienation, ideological self-anchoring, Spanish-nationalist sentiment, and Satisfaction with Spain’s membership in the European Union also continue at their usual levels, with minimum and non-significant variations. But there is a significant increase in Exposure to Information, probably because of some issues of political debate, but most likely because of the Football World Championship, which has led an important part of the population to look for more information. With respect to image of institutions, and as is usual since many years ago, three Spanish NGO’s receive the best ratings: Red Cross (7.8 points in a 0 to 10 scale), ONCE (7.2), and Caritas (7.0), followed, as usual also, by The Crown (6.2 points), the Armed Forces (5.4), the European Commission (5.0), the National Government (4.8), Banks (4.5), and Politicians (3.9), the latter usually being the last one in the ranking, regardless of what are the institutions which are included in the survey. Most institutions lose some point by comparison with the last time they were rated, but this month the ones that lose more are the National Government and the Armed Forces (four decimal points each), and only the European Commission gains two decimal points. With respect to the ranking of public leaders, Felipe González (5.3 points in a scale 0 to 10 points) is rated above José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (5.0 points), followed by José Bono (4.0), Rosa Díez (4.5), Alberto Ruiz Gallardón (4.3), José Montilla (4.2), Durao Barroso (4.0), Gaspar Llamazares (3.7), Mariano Rajoy (3.3) and José Mª Aznar (3.1 points). Similarly to institutions, most public leaders loose some point this month, what suggests some amount of political criticism on the part of the electorate. The leaders who loose more this month are Bono (who looses seven decimal points), Aznar and Llamazares (three decimal points each), while the only ones who now have a better image are Ruiz Gallardón (two decimal points) and Durao Barroso (one decimal point). Vote estimate, consequently, is the same as last month and as the last elections in 2004, tour points difference in favour of PSOE with respecto to PP, something that suggests that the electorate is, basically, where it was during the last elections, in a situation that in “horse races jargon” would be named as “wait and see”, where both parties maintain their positions waiting for the opportunity to “take off” far from the opponent when they approach the arrival post, that is, the next elections.
Talks with ETA
59% of Spaniards agree with the decision of the Government to start talks with the terrorist band ETA in order to reach peace, results that are very similar to those of June. However, 24% think that “the Government will surrender, accepting the main requests by ETA”, against 15% who on the contrary think that “ETA will surrender without the Government paying a political prize”. But 36% believe that “neither ETA nor the Government will surrender, but one and the other will give in something to reach an agreement”, and 24% do not give an opinion to this question. As in past months (April, May and June), more than 50% of Spaniards reject any of the counterparts to ETA’s cease-fire that are usually mentioned, from 88% who reject “favouring the letting free prisoners with blood crimes” to 51% who reject “approaching ETA prisoners to the Basque Country” (see ASEP/JDS’ Monthly Indicator this month of July in www.jdsurvey.net). In addition, this month the question has been asked about which of these counterparts is thought that the PSOE Government will finally accept. Precisely the “approaching of prisoners….” is the counterpart that a relative majority (23%) thinks that the Government will finally accept, followed by the “legalization of Batasuna” (16%). The way the Government is handling its policy to “reach peace in the Basque Country” has led to certain confrontations between the state attorneys and some judges, and very especially with judge Marlaska. Spaniards are more in agreement with judge Marlaska (25%) than with the sate attorneys (14%) regarding two issues: the judge’s decision to forbid several press conferences and public meetings of members of Batasuna, and the judge’s decision to investigate PNV leaders regarding ETA’s extortion network. On the other hand, 40% of Rs consider as true (as against 22% who consider it false) the statement that “PP does not want PSOE to take the merit of finishing with ETA’s violence and that is why they do not cooperate with the Government”, and 38% consider false (as against 24% who consider it true) the statement that “PSOE is ready to give the terrorist band ETA whatever they want in order to take merit of finishing with its violence”. Finally, 43% of Spaniards agree “to negotiate with ETA and even to make some concessions….so that ETA disappears and violence stops”, as against 27% who prefer “not to negotiate at all with ETA, and to continue with the work of the police and the judges until ETA’s unconditional surrender is achieved without making any concession or accepting any of their requests”.
57% of Spaniards state that they have voted in all national elections (legislative or general), 54% have voted in all regional and local elections, and 47% have voted in all referendums. 72% answer that they have felt quite or very comfortable, when they have gone to vote, seeing the site and the conditions where they were supposed to vote. Regarding the said conditions, 35% say that they chose their ballot in the booth, another 41% took the ballots outside the booth but then they selected the one they wanted inside the booth, but 12% answer that there are no booths where they vote (and even 2% of them even say that they must take their ballots very near the ballot box and therefore close to the members of the electoral committee). For this reason 14% of Rs have doubts about other persons knowing or deducting what they have voted, and 2% even say they are sure that other persons can know or deduct what they have voted. But 20% of Rs answer that at least some times they have found that they could not find the ballot they wanted to choose. On the other hand, 65% of Rs say that they always or almost always vote for the same party, but 24% decide in each election what party to vote.
2% of Spaniards admit to be militants of a political party, and an additional 37% are sympathizers of some political party. Regarding their opinion on the work of politicians, 54% believe that “politicians who do not fulfil their function are more or a majority than those who do fulfil their function”, as against 38% who think that “politicians who fulfil their function are more or a majority than those who do not”. And, regarding the present system to elect representatives, 53% of Rs prefer to continue with the present system of voting for a list of candidates appointed by the party, but 23% would prefer to vote directly for the candidate that represents the place where they live.