ASEP’s Indicators System
All most significant indicators (except Satisfaction with how Democracy is working in Spain) have worsened in greater or lesser degree, reflecting Spaniards’ opinions once the 27-M electoral results have been known. Consumer Sentiment decreases by one point, while Evaluation of the Situation of the National Economy decreases by three points, so that both indicators still continue 7 and 14 points respectively below the equilibrium level. The two indicators on household savings also decrease slightly, between one and two points each compared with last month’s. Personal Optimism continues at the same level as in April and May, one point below equilibrium level. Therefore, the three indicators derived from the Consumer Sentiment Index continue below the equilibrium level. Satisfaction with the Quality of Life continues at very high levels, and all other indicators maintain their usual levels, with variations lower than two points, with the exception of the Post-materialism index, that increases by six points in only one month, positioning itself above the 40% level. Regarding political indicators, Satisfaction with how Democracy is working gains nine points, thus reaching its third highest value of the last twelve months. On the contrary, Satisfaction with the Government loses four points, obtaining its third worst rating of the last twelve months, only ten points above the equilibrium level. All other indicators vary very little this month, maintaining their usual levels. As for the image of institutions, this month’s ranking is the following: The Crown (6.1 points in a scale 0 to 10 points), Armed Forces, Constitutional Court and the Ombudsman (5.5 points each), Local Government (5.4), Senate and Congress (5.2 each), Entrepreneurial Organizations (5.0), National Government (4.9), Labour Unions (4.7), Banks (4.6), Catholic Church (4.4), and Political Parties (4.3 points in a 0 to 10 scale). Every month of June ASEP asks for the image of the same institutions, so that the ratings can be compared with last year’s besides with those obtained last month or the last time they were included for rating. When this year’s ratings are compared with those of last year, it is observed that most institutions have experienced a reduction, especially the Church, who has lost four decimal points, as well as the National Government and the Armed Forces, who have lost three points each. But, when comparing the ratings with those of last month or the last time they were included, it may be seen that the Constitutional Court and The Crown are the only two institutions that have increased significantly (four and three points respectively), while Congress increases by one point. The Catholic Church is the institution that loses the most, four decimal points, together with the National Government, Political Parties and Labour Unions, who lose one decimal point each. All other institutions obtain the same rating as last month or the last time they were included in the ranking. It must be underlined that the three most valued institutions this month are The Crown, the Armed Forces and the Constitutional Court, while the three least valued are the Labour Unions, the Catholic Church and Political Parties. The National Government is ninth in the ranking, among 13 institutions. With respect to public leaders, Prince Felipe receives the best rating (6.3 points in a scale 0 to 10 points), and Felipe González (5.2) is the only other leader that gets a rating over 5 points. Below that level of 5 points are Jose Bono (4.9 points), Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (4.7), Alberto Ruiz Gallardon (4.4), Joaquin Leguina (4.3), Rosa Diez (4.2), Nicolas Redondo Terreros (4.1), Fernando Savater (4.0), Gaspar Llamazares (3.7), Mariano Rajoy (3.5), and Jose Mª Aznar (3.1 points in a scale 0 to 10 points). The majority of leaders receive evaluations that are the same or lower than the last time they were included, except Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, who increases its evaluation by three decimal points. The vote estimate for a future (and not yet called) general election shows 1.5 percent points difference between PSOE and PP, something that more than ever suggests the existence of a tie between the two major parties. But one must repeat once more that since May 2004 vote estimates have shown a real tie situation between the two major parties, with a variation in the estimates that go from two percent points in favour of the PP to tour percent points in favour of the PSOE, depending on the estimate of participation rate. One must also take into account that the abstention estimate, 25.8% this month, is three percent points above the real abstention rate observed in the March 2004 elections, a high abstention rate, that explains why the difference between the PSOE and the PP is so small, though it is still favourable to the PSOE.
Local and Regional Elections
June’s survey is the first one run after the local and regional elections of May 27, for which reason some questions relative to the electoral campaign, participation, and consequences of the results were included. Thus, a question asked about which campaign had seemed “more convincing, to the point of voting for that party”, results showing that a slightly larger proportion (27%) mentioned the PSOE, as against 20% who mentioned the PP. The difference is even greater when the question was asked about what political leader seemed more convincing, so that 38% mentioned Rodriguez Zapatero and 22% mentioned Rajoy. As usual, 75% of Rs answered that they had voted in both elections (local and regional), though official results indicate that participation was only 64%. 40% of those who said they had not voted say they could not vote because they were sick or on travel (the most common excuse), and proportions lower than 20% in each case said that the position of the different parties with respect to the problems in the city or town where they live, or the problems of Spain, did not satisfy them. Those were also the most frequent answers of those who had not voted in the regional elections (taking into account only Rs who lived in regions where regional elections were held). In any case, 42% of Rs voted in the two elections and for the same party in both of them, 26% voted in the local but not in the regional elections (mainly because elections were not held in their region), and 23% did not vote in any of the two elections. Only 5% of Rs say that they voted in both elections but for different parties in each of them. Vote stability manifests itself, therefore, both in time and when comparing vote in local, regional or national elections. Similarly to some other post-elections surveys, a question has been asked regarding the conditions in which voting took place. Thus, 75% of Rs say that they voted in precincts where booths to vote in privacy were available, but 13% answered that they voted in precincts where booths were not available, though ballots were far from the ballot-box, but 5% admit that there were no booths available, and ballots were side by side with the ballot-box, in the precincts where they voted. Similarly, and using a 1 to 5 scale where 1 means “voted under the conviction that other people knew what party they had voted for” and 5 means “voted without any fear that other people might have known what party they had voted for”, 75% of Rs answered that they voted without any fear. As for the questions that may have influenced voters to vote or not to vote for a particular party, Rs say that the most important issues that Spain had to confront between the 2003 and the 2007 elections were terrorism (27%), and negotiations with ETA and Batasuna and immigration (less than 20% in each case). On the basis of a 5 points scale it has been shown that the majority of Spaniards believe that the democratic system is representative, since 75% of them believe that “it is very important who is in power in local governments”, as against 7% who think that “it is not important who is in power in local governments”, and 66% say that “voting has a great influence on events”, while 11% think that “voting has not any influence on events”. Besides, 76% of Rs believe that “though democracy may have problems, it is better than any other form of government”. Going back to the issue of participation in elections, but referring this time to the 2003 local and regional elections, 76% of Rs say they voted in those elections (again an over-estimated vote recall, since only 68% of the electorate really voted). And the over-estimation of vote for the PSOE according to that vote recall is very similar to the over-estimation of vote for the PSOE in the 2004 general elections. But it is very important to underline that 78% of those who say they voted in the 2003 local and regional elections evaluate negatively the performance of the party they voted during the period 2003-2007. Using the arithmetic mean in this rating scale, that varies from 1 (very negative evaluation of performance) to 4 (very positive evaluation), it is observed that those who evaluate better the performance of the party they voted in 2003 during those four years are voters for IU (3.06) and voters for the PP (3.03), followed by those who voted for CiU and those who voted for the PSOE and PNV (both 2.95). Regarding the electoral legislation and its consequences, 47% of Rs think that the party ANV should have been illegalized completely, while 9% believe that all of their lists should have been legalized, and 15% agree with the decision to declare illegal some ANV lists but not all. There is more controversy with respect to the desired legislation for future local elections. Thus, though a relative majority (37%) think that “the Mayor should always be the candidate of the electoral list that received more votes, even if he doesn’t have an absolute majority”, 27% are in favour of maintaining the present system, that is, “to allow post-electoral coalitions between different parties in order to build absolute majorities and to elect the Mayor”, but 22% go even further, suggesting that “when no party obtains an absolute majority there should be a second round of elections in which only the two lists that had received the largest number of votes in the first round would participate”. In any case, these opinions suggest that only a fourth of the electorate agrees with the present electoral legislation for local elections. Opinions are very similar, however, when similar questions are asked regarding regional or national elections, so that a relative majority (35%) thinks the “government should always be formed on the basis of the party list that obtained the greatest number of votes, even if it does not have an absolute majority”, 28% think that “post-electoral coalitions of several parties should be permitted in order to guarantee majorities and to constitute (absolute) majority governments”, but one out of five Spaniards thinks that “when no party obtains an absolute majority, a second round of elections should be held in which only the two parties that obtained the largest number of votes in the first round would be allowed to participate”. Thus, also in this case a minority of 20% supports the present legislation for regional and national elections.
Negotiations with Batasuna and ETA
87% of Rs know about the decision of the Government to send De Juana Chaos back to prison, once he was released from the hospital where he was interned. Besides, a similar proportion says that this is exactly what they wanted the Government to do. Regarding ETA’s announcement to cancel their cease fire, almost half of the Rs (46%) said that “they expected it with certainty”, 36% “had some doubts that it might happen”, and only 11% did not expect it at all. 41% of Rs agree with the policy followed by the Government “to reach the cease fire of the terrorist band ETA”, but 36% disagree with that policy. Finally, and with respect to the opinion regarding the policy that the Government should follow from now on, 40% of Rs say that it should “fight against ETA through police investigation and the courts of justice”, while 31% say that the Government should “reach an agreement with the PP on the policy to fight ETA’s terrorism”. The two proposals are not in contradiction; rather they were in co-existed while the Treaty for Freedoms and against Terrorism lasted. On the contrary, only 14% think that the Government “should continue with its policy of negotiation with the terrorist band ETA until they abandon violence definitely”.