Economic and political indicators are in general more negative for the Government this month. Consumer Sentiment loses four points, and though the Evaluation of the Economic Situation of Spain increases by two points, the evaluation of the personal situation (as measured by Personal Optimism) loses three points, so that the three indicators remain significantly below the equilibrium level, between 5 and 18 below that level, the Evaluation of the Economic Situation of Spain being the more negative of the three. Propensity to Saving continues at the same level than last month, and the Proportion who Saves some money remains also at the same level (one percent point below September’s value). Regarding political indicators, Satisfaction with the Government decreases once more, two more points less this month, so that it obtains again its lowest value since the last elections in 2004 (it should be remembered that this value was 152 (on a scale 0 to 200) in May 2004, and is now 112, that is, very close to the equilibrium level, in which those who feel satisfied equal the unsatisfied ones. On the contrary, Satisfaction with how Democracy is working continues at a high level, as usual (155 on a scale 0 to 200), increasing even by two points this month. The remaining indicators hardly vary significantly this month. With respect to the image of institutions, this month’s ranking is the following: National Police (6.4 points on a scale 0 to 10 points), Civil Guard (6.3), The Crown (6.1), Armed Forces (6.0), Courts of Justice (5.2), Banks (5.0) and the National Government (4.8 points on a scale 0 to 10 points). The strong increase in the evaluation of the State’s Security Forces and the Armed Forces must be underlined this month, as they increase by four and five decimal points in the case of the Security Forces compared with the last time they were included (one year ago), and by five decimal points in the case of the Armed Forces compared to last month. The three evaluations are the highest for many years. The Crown, Courts of Justice and Banks also increase their evaluation, so that the only institution that receives the same evaluation as last month’s is the National Government, who maintains the same evaluation for three consecutive months, the lowest of past several years, except in December 2005, so that the four evaluations are the only ones below 5 points since the last national elections in 2004. With respect to the ranking of public leaders, Queen Sophie receives this month the highest evaluation of all leaders included (7.0 points on a scale 0 to 10), followed at a distance by Felipe Gonzalez (5.1 points), who continues to be better evaluated than José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (4.7), Mariano Rajoy (3.6), Gaspar Llamazares (3.5), and José Mª Aznar (3.4 points on a scale 0 to 10). In comparison with last month, Felipe Gonzalez is the only political leader that gains one decimal point, while Rodriguez Zapatero and Aznar maintain last month’s values, and Rajoy and Llamazares lose one and three decimal points respectively. To summarize, it can be said that political indicators continue to be somewhat more negative (or less positive) for the Government than those of last month, continuing a trend that already lasts many months, and that contrasts significantly with the extremely positive evaluations that this Government obtained when it initiated its mandate in May 2004. This trend is once more confirmed by voting estimates, which this month show a difference of only one percent point between PSOE and PP, something that would imply a tie if this was really the result of a general election. In comparison with real results in 2004, PP would lose 7 decimal percent points, while PSOE would lose 3.2 percent points. IU and the centre-right nationalist parties would lose 2 and 6 decimal points respectively, while left nationalists would win 2 decimal points and “other” parties would win three decimal points. As a consequence, estimated electoral non-participation would increase by 4.2 points compared with real non-participation in 2004, something that suggests once more that lower participation favours PP and vice-versa, as was demonstrated in the last elections of 2004, 2000 and 1996.
Most important problems for Spain
The main problems in Spain, according to Spaniards, are unemployment and employment (cited in first, second or third place by 41% of respondents), followed by immigration and housing (39% in both cases), and terrorism (23%). Terrorism has decreased significantly during the last months, but preoccupation has increased with respect to immigration and housing, as well as regarding corruption, that occupies fifth place on the ranking this month (See the graphic included in Most Significant Indicators in the main page of ASEP/JDS Data Bank).
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, the same as in September, refers to the establishment of the “driver’s licence based on points” (almost three out of every four respondents show their agreement with it), almost half the respondents agree with Spain’s-EU relations, and one third also agree with the recently approved Dependency Law. But there is a very controversial opinion, with a slight tendency towards agreement, regarding the agreement with the UK on Gibraltar, and a slight tendency towards disagreement with respect to “the negotiations with ETA-Batasuna”, with “the treatment awarded to victims of ETA’s terrorism”, and with the pacts between the Government and nationalist parties, but there is a clear and strong disagreement with immigration policy (57% disagree and only 30% agree with the Government’s policy towards immigration).
Immigration is already the second most important problem for Spaniards, after unemployment, both when the first cited problem is taken into consideration and when the problems cited in first, second and third place are taken into account, though when the tree most important problems are considered, immigration ties with housing and is only two points below unemployment. Apart from this consideration, the question has been asked about what the Government should do with immigrants that enter Spain illegally. Each respondent could give more than one answer. The results show that 44% say that “they should be sent back to their countries of origin if there are repatriation treaties with those countries”, but an additional 29% answers that they “should be expelled from Spain whether or not their country of origin is known”. However, 20% answer that they “should be granted a working permit”, and proportions smaller than 20% suggest “granting them a medi-care card”, “allowing and enforcing that their children attend school”, “maintaining them in a receiving centre indefinitely if they cannot be sent back to their countries of origin”, and “registering them as residents”. Proportions smaller than 7% also mention “granting them freedom after 40 days if it is not known the country they come from”, “granting them a social salary if they don’t have a job”, “granting them Spanish nationality”, “facilitating to them social housing when they have no resources to rent of buy a house”, and “allowing them to vote in the next municipal (local) elections.