ASEP’s Indicators’ SystemAll indicators this month improve slightly, and though the improvement is not large, it seems important to point out that they have stopped getting worse. Consumer Sentiment index increases three points, and the Evaluation of the National Economic Situation increases five points, but both indicators remain clearly below the equilibrium level. The two savings indicators also remain in the same level as last month. Personal Optimism, however, only increases one point with respect to last month, and also continues below the equilibrium level. Satisfaction with the Quality of Life is always at very high levels, but this month it equals the maximum value (183 over a total of 200 points possible) reached in June 2006. Even post-materialism increases three points, though it continues to be below 35 points, suggesting a return to more materialist values, with greater emphasis on the importance of authority and greater concern about personal and economic security. Regarding political indicators, Satisfaction with how Democracy is working increases two points, and Satisfaction with the Government increases one point, though in this latter case the increase seems rather a temporal fluctuation, since the trend since the last elections has been downward. Other indicators vary very little this month, maintaining their usual values, but it should be underlined that Satisfaction with Spain membership in the European Union has increased two points, remaining clearly above the equilibrium level, while Exposure to Information loses two points, thus becoming somewhat below the equilibrium level. With respect to the image of institutions, the ranking this month is as follows: The Crown (6.3 points in a scale 0 to 10 points), the Constitution (6.2), the Armed Forces (6.0), the Supreme Court (5.6), the Local Government (5.4), the National Government (5.1), and the Banks (4.8 points). In the ranking of public leaders King Juan Carlos obtains, as usual, the highest rating, 6.8 points in a scale 0 to 10 points, significantly above the next leader, Felipe Gonzalez (5.3 points), who is the only other leader that is rated above 5 points. Therefore, the ranking is: King Juan Carlos (6.8 points in a scale 0 to 10 points), Felipe Gonzalez (5.3), José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (4.9), Alberto Ruiz Gallardón (4.1), Miguel Sebastián (4.0), Rafael Simancas (3.9), Gaspar Llamazares (3.8), Soraya Saenz de Santamaría (3.7), Esperanza Aguirre (3.6), Mariano Rajoy (3.3) y José Mª Aznar (3.2 points in a scale 0 to 10 points). Voting estimate shows an increase in the difference between the estimated vote for PSOE and that for PP (over 100 registered voters) to 3.5 percent points, only three decimal points less than in the last elections of 2004. But, as has been pointed out repeatedly, since May 2004 voting estimates have really reflected a tie situation between the two large parties, with a variation in the estimates that range from two points favourable to PP to four points favourable to PSOE, depending on the turn out/abstention estimated rate. It must be taken into account that abstention estimate, 23.5% this month, is only slightly less than one percent point more than the true observed rate in the elections of March 2004, suggesting a high participation, something that explains the increase in the difference between PSOE and PP when it is compared with that of last month, when the estimated abstention rate was 26.5%.
Next Local and Regional Elections43% of Spaniards say that they will surely vote in the local and regional elections that will be held next May, and an additional 37% say that they will probably vote. For the time being, electoral participation is estimated at approximately 60-65 per cent, though this estimate will be refined on the basis of data that will be collected in the monthly surveys of April and May. Rs are more or less divided in two equal parts of about one third each that inform that in their city halls PSOE (36%) or PP (37%) make their local government, a description that very much resembles reality (one should remember that PSOE obtained 35% of the valid votes and a total of 23,224 elected local representatives in the 2003 local elections, while PP obtained 34% of the valid votes and a total of 23,615 local representatives). Local vote recall seems surprisingly close to reality. When the question is posed as to what party they think will win the next local elections, 32% answer that PSOE will win, against 27% who think that PP will win. Obviously expectations about who will win do not intend to be a vote prediction, but it is still too early to make a prediction based on voting intentions.
The Fight against ETA’s TerrorismAlmost two out of every three Rs show their disagreement with the decision of prison officials, and therefore of the National Government, to transfer the ETA terrorist killer De Juana Chaos to a hospital in the Basque Country and to grant him “on parole” status. Only one in four Rs agree with either decision. But more than one third of Rs think that “the [Spanish] National Government has surrendered to ETA, that it has accepted its blackmailing”, and only a proportion slightly higher stays in line with the National Government in stating that the PP is lying and only wants to destabilize the Government. When the question is asked about supposed negotiations between the National Government and the terrorist band ETA 37% think that the Government is telling the truth, wile 32% think that the Government is cheating Spaniards. With respect to Government’s actions to end with ETA’s terrorism, opinions are very varied, so that 27% say that “the Government has an efficient official strategy to finish with ETA”, 24% believe that “the Government has reached a secret pact with Batasuna and ETA”, and 18% think that “the Government is frightened and prefers to accepts ETA’s conditions”. Regarding possible counterparts that the Government might accept as a response to ETA’s and Batasuna’s requests, a majority of Spaniards think that the Government will accept “to approach ETA prisoners to the Basque Country”, and “to favour freeing ETA’s prisoners with no blood crimes”, but a very controversial opinion is observed in relation to whether or not the Government will legalize Batasuna. On the contrary, a very wide majority supports the view that the Government will not permit that the Basque Country annexes Navarra, and that it will not accept the total independence of the Basque Country. During several previous months the question has also been asked, using a scale 0 o 10 points in which 0 means that R would never accept, and 10 means that R would accept as soon as possible, about the counterparts that R would be willing to accept (See the Most Significant Indicator this month, in the section Current News of this web page, www.jdsurvey.net) in exchange for ETA’s cease fire. The result is that more than half of the sample answer that they would “NEVER” accept total independence of the Basque Country, the annexation of Navarra to the Basque Country, or the legalization of Batasuna, 45% would never accept freeing ETA’s prisoners with no blood crimes, and 39% would never accept the rapprochement of ETA’s prisoners to the Basque Country. If the additional ratings 1 to 4.9 points were taken into account rejection would be even higher. Finally, with respect to the possible performance of the Government or the PP from no won, those that Rs would be more inclined to support are “the continuation of negotiations with ETA” and “the announcement on the part of the Government of a cease of conversations and negotiations with Batasuna and ETA”, that is, two fully contradictory statements supported by social sectors who are obviously very different, and in the third place “to call for anticipated legislative elections”. But there seems to be more consensus regarding what Rs think that will happen, since 36% believe that the Government will continue to negotiate with ETA.
National SymbolsThrough the use of a scale 0 to 10 points, Rs were asked to tell how much respect they had for different national and regional (autonomic) symbols. The result, summarizing in the following evaluation ranking the responses obtained, is that the Spanish Constitution is the symbol that deserves the greatest respect (7.9 points), followed by the Spanish Flag (7.7), the Spanish National Anthem and the Flag of their region (Autonomous Community) (both rated with 7.6 points), the regional anthem (7.5) and the regional statute (7.4).
Most Important Problems in SpainASEP has asked on several previous occasions about the most important problems in Spain according to Spaniards’ opinion. When only the first problem mentioned is taken into account the ranking is the following: unemployment (17%), and housing and terrorism (13% each). But, when the three most important problems mentioned by each R where taken into account, the ranking is the following: housing (41%), unemployment (40%), terrorism (35%), and immigration (26%).