ASEP’s Indicators System
The majority of indicators improve very slightly this month again, and although the improvement is small it follows the trend initiated in February. Consumer Sentiment increases two points, and the Evaluation of the National Economic Situation increases three points, though both indicators continue to be still 6 to 11 points below the equilibrium level. The two indicators on savings decrease slightly this month between two and three points each with respect to last month. Personal Optimism continues in the same level than in April, and is one point below the equilibrium level. Satisfaction with the Quality of Life continues at very high levels, and the remaining social indicators continue in their usual values, with fluctuations that are lower than two points. As regards political indicators, Satisfaction with how Democracy is working decreases by six points, a very significant decrease that takes this indicator to its lowest level of the last twelve months (though it continues at a very high level), as in December 2006 and January 2007. Satisfaction with how the National Government is performing also loses two points, breaking the slight trend to recuperation observed between January and April of this year. The rest of the indicators vary little this month, keeping their usual levels. Regarding the image of institutions, this month’s ranking is the following: the European Union (6.0 points in a scale 0 to 10 points), the Crown (5.8 points), Armed Forces, U.N. and the Judge of the 11-M Court (5.5 points each), the Constitutional Court and NATO (5.1 points each ), the National Government (5.0), the State Attorney General (4.8), and the Banks (4.5 points each in a scale 0 to 10 points). The Constitutional Court loses four decimal points, and all other institutions loose between 1 and 2 decimal points with respect to their last evaluation (something that suggests a certain generalized discontent of the population), except Banks, that maintain their April evaluation, and the State Attorney General and the Judge of the 11-M Trial, who were evaluated this month for the first time. As for the ranking of public leaders, Jose Bono and Felipe Gonzalez (5.0) are the only ones that go beyond the limit of 5 points. Therefore all other leaders are evaluated below 5 points: José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (4.8), Mª Teresa Fernández de la Vega (4.6), Pedro Solbes, Rosa Díez and Ségòlene Royal (4.3 points each), José Antonio Alonso and Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba (4.2 points each), Gaspar Llamazares and Miguel Angel Moratinos (3.8 points each), Nicolás Sarkozy (3.6), Mariano Rajoy (3.5), and José Mª Aznar (3.1 points in a scale 0 to 10). Voting intentions for a future (and not called) general election shows 3.8 per cent points difference between PSOE and PP, exactly the same difference than in the last elections of 2004. But it must be underlined once more that since the last elections in 2004 what voting intentions have shown is a tie situation betwee two great parties, with a variation in the estimates that varies from two per cent points in favour of PP to four per cent points in favour of PSOE, depending on the estimate of turn-out. It must also be taken into account that abstention estimate, 20.4% this month, is almost two per cent points lower than observed abstention in the March elections of 2004, a high participation estimate that explains the difference between PSOE and PP, favourable to the PSOE.
Local and Regional Elections
Data relative to local and regional elections were collected prior to election day, but its analysis practically finished on election day, for which reason it doesn’t seem reasonable to make a post-facto forecast. About one fourth of Rs said that when voting in the local elections they would take into account the position of the different parties with respect to the problems of the town or city in which they lived, about 15% answered respectively that they would take into account the candidates in the electoral lists for the local elections and the position of parties regarding the main problems in Spain, and proportions around 10% or lower say that they would take into account the main problems of its Autonomous Community or other issues, but it must be underlined that 12% mentioned that they would take into account their loyalty to the party they always or almost always vote. 6% of Rs say that there was some event that made them change their voting intention in the local and regional elections, as against 88% who say they haven’t changed their intentions. Out of the 76 persons who admit having changed their electoral behaviour, 12 would vote for PSOE, 18 would vote for PP, no one for IU, 15 for another party, and 13 for none at all, but 12 persons do not indicate what their change in voting would be. 59% of Rs also say that they would surely vote in this election, and an additional 22% say they would probably vote. On the basis of criteria used in previous elections one would estimate in 70% the proportion that intended to vote in the local elections according to May data, as against real participation observed of 64%, observed in the last local elections, four points below participation in 2003. Voting estimate for regional elections, though the number of Rs who could vote in them (661) was logically lower than the number who could vote in the local elections (1,213), is nevertheless very similar to the local estimate, so that 63% answered they would surely vote, and an additional 13% said they would probably vote. It seems, therefore, that two weeks before elections the electorate was quite prepared to vote. E6xpressed voting intention (not estimated) over-estimated vote for the PSOE in the local (36%) and regional (34%) elections, and under-estimated vote for the PP (20% and 26% respectively). As usual, voting estimates reduced that difference drastically, just the same as if were the voting estimate for a hypothetical general elections. May data, compared with those of April, suggested that the electorate had reduced its expectatives regarding the PSOE. The estimate was very favourable to PP in the regional elections, since 44% of Rs living in Communities holding elections (therefore excluding Catalonia, Basque Country, Galitzia and Andalousia) said they thought that PP would win in their Community, while only 22% thought that PSOE would win. One should not forget, however, that the proportion of Rs who lived in Communities where the PP was in power, and in which elections were being held, was three times larger than those who lived in Communities where the PSOE was in power.
Recent Performance of the National Government
This month’s survey included some opinion questions on recent measures and actions taken by the National Govenment that, supposedly, could have some influence on vote. On the basis of a five categories agreement-disagreement scale it was possible to mesaure the existence of a great disagreement (64% fully or partially disagreed) with “the treatement give by the Government ot the ETA terrorist de Juana Chaos”, a somewhat smaller disagreement (56%) regarding “withdrawing the charges against Otegui so that judges could not sentence him to prison”. And, between 43% and 47% of Rs also showed their very general (but not absolute) disagreement regarding “the lack of decision to ask the illegalization of all ANV electoral lists….”, “the decision to maintain Spanish troops in Afghanistan” and “to maintain their negotiations with Batasuna and the terrorist band ETA”. In fact, the only decision with which Spaniards seem to aggree is with respect to the approval of the Law for Dependency, with which 49% of Rs agree. It seems evident, according to these results, that Spanish public opinion was largely against the most important government’s policies, as the policy towards the so called “peace process”, that is, against the policy of negotiation with ¨Batasuna and ETA.
Public Policies in Spain
It seems odd, however, that when Rs are asked to mention the party that they consider more qualified to develop better certain policies, including the fight against terrorism of ETA, public opinion generally mentions the PSOE rather than PP. In fact, most Rs think that PSOE is more qualified than PP to lead the fight against terrorism of ETA, to produce jobs, to fight against rise of prices, to promote access to housing, to foster a sescurity and defense policy, to fight against delinquency and organized crime, to improve compulsory education and university education, to guarantee retirement pensions, and to control immigration. More capacity is acknowledged to PP rather than to PSOE in what refers to the defense of the unity of Spain and the defense of the national symbols of Spain. As a follow up to this question Rs were also asked about the degree of importance of each of these policies. Taking the two policies that each R considered as more important, it may be observed that Spaniards atribute more importance to fighting terrorism of ETA (42%), followed by production of jobs (40%), access to housing (34%), fighting rising prices (23%), fighting delinquency and organized crime (16%), control of immigration (16%), guaranteeing that retirement pensions will be paid (10%), while the other policies are mentioned by less than 10% of Rs. On the contrary, 40% of Rs say that none of these policies is of little importance.
French elections seem to have had great repercussion in Spain, but results suggest that they have not been of interest for about half of the Spanish population. Thus, when Spaniards are asked about whom they would have voted for had they had the possibility to vote, 6 out of each 10 Spaniards doesn’t answer the question, and out of those who do answer the proportion who say that they would have voted for Segolene is double than that which would have voted for Sarkozy. However, and in great contradiction with these preferences, an absolute majority of Rs, generally more than 75%, show themselves rather favourable or very favourable towards issues defended by Sarkozy in his campaign, as the pride to be Spanish (French, naturally, in Sarkozy’s campaign), the return to working 40 hours per week, authority and order, hard-work culture, fighting delinquency, greater control on immigration, and the construction of Europe. On the other hand, one out of four Spaniards think that Mariano Rajoy is the Spanish political leader that more resembles Sarkozy, while 10% think it is Aznar, and smaller proportions mention other political leaders.