ASEP’s Indicators System
Most indicators related to the Government or its policies show this month more negative values than in last July, something that might be attributed to public opinion reaction to different events that took place last summer, as the unusual growth in the number of incoming migrants, forest fires in Galicia, the new statute for Catalonia, increases in the “euribor” that are immediately translated in the price of mortgages, increase in delinquency and crime, and many other issues that contribute to create a climate of social alarm and insecurity more or less diffuse or general. More concretely, Consumers’ Sentiment decreases by one point and the Evaluation of the Economic Situation of Spain decreases by eight points, so that both indicators are lower and lower below the equilibrium level. Personal Optimism also decreases, and is now two points below the equilibrium level, losing three points with respect to July. Satisfaction with how democracy is working in Spain and Satisfaction with the Government also lose six and ten points respectively, but while Satisfaction with how democracy is working continues at a high level, Satisfaction with the Government is closer and closer to the equilibrium level, to the point that this month’s value is the second lowest of the last twelve months, and the second lowest also since the present PSOE Government was established after the 2004 elections. Some other indicators maintain their usual levels with minor variations, as political alienation (that increases by three points), ideological self-placement (that moves slightly towards the centre), Spanish-nationalist sentiment (that moves slightly towards the Spanish sentiment pole), and Satisfaction with Spain’s membership to the European Union (that increases by two points). And, for the second consecutive month there is a significant increase in Exposure to Information, probably due to some issues of political debate that stimulate people to look for information. Regarding the image of institutions, this month’s ranking is the following: The Crown (6.0 in a 0 to 10 points scale), the Armed Forces and the United Nations (5.5), regional TV channels (5.3), TVE (5.2), the National Government (4.8), Banks (4.7), and the new Catalonian statute (3.7 in a 0 to 10 points scale). As for the ranking of public leaders, Jose Bono receives this month the highest evaluation (5.2 in a 0 to 10 points scale), followed by Felipe González (5.0 points), who continues to score higher than José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (4.7), Jesús Caldera and Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba (4.1), Gaspar Llamazares (3.8), Mariano Rajoy (3.7) and José Mª Aznar (3.4 points in a scale 0 to 10). This climate of a certain relative discomfort with the Government is also manifested in this month’s vote estimate, which shows a reduction in the difference between PSOE and PP, from four percent points in July to two percent points now in September, so that if in July PSOE maintained the same percent point difference with PP than in the last general election of 2004, now the difference is two percent points below the difference really observed in that election.
Recent Government’s actions
On the basis of a five points scale, from “completely disagree” to “very much agree”, respondents were asked to indicate their degree of agreement or disagreement with some recent actions of Zapatero’s Government. The maximum degree of agreement refers to the establishment of the “driver’s licence based on points”, but there is a controversial opinion with a slight tendency towards agreement with respect to the “law about the historic memory and other actions to remember the Civil War”, and an even more controversial opinion, with a very negligible tendency towards agreement or disagreement with respect to “negotiations with ETA and Batasuna”, “sending troops to Lebanon”, “forest fires in Galicia”, “PAO’s on Endesa”, “water scarcity”, and the “Catalonian statute”. It may be said that, with the exception of the wide support for the “driver’s licence based on points”, Spanish society seems absolutely divided into two equal parts regarding any other issue of public debate.
The potential electoral support to a new centre party
Though the possibility that a new centre party might emerge is very remote, 17% of respondents state that they would be willing to vote (most of them “probably”) for a new centre party, but 42% would not vote for it (half of them “surely” and the other half “probably” would not vote for it). But it seems important to underline that one out of every three respondents say that it would “depend”. Once more a clear division of the electorate in two almost equivalent blocks is observed, half of them saying that they would not vote for a new centre party, and the other half saying that they “might” vote for it, or would vote for it depending on circumstances.
Attitudes towards immigrants
More than half of this month’s respondents think that immigrants coming from non European Union countries should not have the right to vote in the next local elections in 2007. And, in a similar manner, more than half also disagree with the fact that illegal immigrants who do not say the country they come from cannot be rejected and therefore must be left free in the streets. 38% think that the Government is dealing bad or very bad with the issue of illegal immigration, as against 19% who think that the Government is dealing well or very well, and more than one third who think that it is dealing nor well neither bad with it. But one of the most interesting findings is the perception of how Spaniards think immigration has affected their daily life. Thus, 14% say they have had a good emotional relationship with an immigrant, 13% have suffered delays in being assisted in the public health service due to the great number of immigrants in the waiting list, 9% have been the victims of a crime by an immigrant, 5% have an immigrant taking care some sick or old person in their family, 4% have an immigrant as household help, 3% have not got a job or have lost the job they had because it was given to an immigrant, 3% have hired an immigrant for their firm or business, and 2% declare that a son or daughter have not been admitted to a public school because immigrants had a higher priority. With respect to illegal immigrants, 69% fully approve or just approve repatriation of illegal immigrants to their countries of origin, as against 12% who disapprove of it. And finally, while 29% believe that the Government will stimulate immigrants to go to other European countries, or that it will repatriate them to their countries of origin, 44% believe that it will leave them in Spain without legalizing them, or that it will legalize them sooner or later, or will even grant them Spanish nationality. But what Spaniards wish is that the Government acts precisely in the opposite direction of how they think it will act, since 61% wish that the Government repatriates them or encourages them to leave, and only 20% wish that they be left in Spain, that they be legalized or that they are granted Spanish nationality.