ASEP’s Indicators System
All most significant indicators have improved as is usual during the month of July, possibly due like in previous years to the fact that Spaniards do not want to think of anything that may bother their summer vacations, and to that end (according to this explanation) is to be self-convinced that everything goes well. Worries, as in the case of bad students, are delayed to September. Thus, Consumer Sentiment and Evaluation of the National Economy gain three points, but both indicators still remain between 4 and 11 points below equilibrium level. The two indicators on savings decrease again this month by two points each by comparison with last month. Personal Optimism also gains three points, and is again above equilibrium level, like in July last year. Therefore, of the three indicators drawn from Consumer Sentiment, two continue below the equilibrium level, the Evaluation of the National Economy being the most negative of the three, and Personal Optimism being the only one slightly positive. Satisfaction with Life also reaches its highest value of the last twelve months, and the remaining social indicators continue in their usual values (post-materialism is again above 40%, as last month). With respect to political indicators, Satisfaction with how Democracy is working decreases only by one point (a change that is not significant), while Satisfaction with the National Government increases by nine points, reaching the second highest value of the last twelve months, nineteen points above equilibrium level (and therefore only lower than the level reached…..in July last year (five points lower now). All other indicators vary very little this month, as they maintain their usual levels, except for Exposure to Information, whose definition has changed this month to test a different battery of questions, showing an increase of 26 points with respect to last month, possibly due to the change on the measurement instrument. Regarding the image of institutions, this month’s ranking is the following: The Crown (6.0 points in a scale 0 to 10 points), Armed Forces (5.8), National Government (4.9), and Banks (4.3 points in the 0 to 10 points scale). It must be underlined that the Crown maintains its rating above 6 points. In the ranking of public leaders Felipe Gonzalez (5.2 points in a 0 to 10 points scale) is the only political leader that is rated above the 5 points barrier. Below 5 points are Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (4.8), Gaspar Llamazares (3.7), Mariano Rajoy (3.3), and Jose M. Aznar (3.0 points in the 0 to 10 points scale). Variations with respect to last month are hardly significant, but they seem to reflect a certain increase in the image of the Government and the PSOE, and a certain loss of image for PP that seems to be due to the image that mass media furnish, almost unanimously, regarding the performance of both party-leaders in the Debate on the State of the Nation. Voting estimates for future (but not yet called) general elections show 5.1 percent points difference between PSOE and PP, something that seems to be a consequence of what has been said about public opinion in July, something that was also observed in July 2006 (when the difference in voting estimates in favour of the PSOE was 4.2 per cent points), with an abstention rate exactly equal to that of this month of July, 24.9%, that is, 2.1 per cent points above the observed abstention in the March 2004 elections.
Attitudes towards the environment
56% of Rs belief that “priority should be given to protection of the environment, even if that causes slower economic development and some loss of jobs”, while only 29% think that priority should be given to economic development and job production, even when that might cause some damage to the environment”. But once more one should underline that these type of questions may generate “politically correct” answers. Thus, when Rs are asked if they “would give part of their income if they were sure the money would be used to prevent environmental pollution” almost half of them show their agreement, but a similar proportion disagrees. In a similar way, almost half of Rs would agree with “an increase in taxes if the extra money would be used to prevent environmental pollution”, but a similar proportion would disagree again. And, as a confirmation that that the apparent priority awarded to protecting the environment is more theoretical than real is that 85% of Rs agrees with the statement that “the Government should reduce environmental pollution, but without it costing me any money”, and only 9% disagree with that statement. When Spaniards are asked about the most important environmental problems in the world, about three quarters consider very important the warming of the Earth and the greenhouse effect, the loss of vegetable and/or animal species and biodiversity, and the pollution of rivers, lakes and oceans. Something less than one out of four Rs consider “important” each of those three problems, so that the proportion who do not consider them important or very important is in all cases below 5%.
The Millenium Development Goals
81% of Spaniards 18 years and over say that they have not heard of the Millenium Development Goals established by the UN for the year 2015. In any case, when they are asked about the most important problem for the world as a whole among the four problems that Rs were asked about, two thirds mention “people who live in poverty and need”, and when the two responses that each R could give are taken into account, 84% mention poverty and need, while 49% mention “bad health and infectious deseases”, 33% mention “discrimination against girls and women”, and 29% mention “environmental pollution” (something that once more demonstrates that concern for the environment is not as important for Spaniards as they usually say). “People living in poverty and need” is also the most mentioned problem when reference is made to Spain, and when the two possible responses are taken into account this proportion rises to three fourths, “environmental pollution” being the second problem most mentioned, though only in a slightly higher proportion than “bad health and infectious diseases” and “discrimination against girls and women”.
Spanish Aid to Developing Countries
A majority of Spaniards think that the aid that Spain gives other countries is very low, but a similar proportion thinks that it is adequate and only 5% belief that it is very high. When Rs are asked about the quantity that Spain should devote to aid other countries, a little over one third think that it should devote twice as much, and even one out of every five Rs think that it should be three times as much. However, these generous wishes disappear when the increase in aid must come from the citizens’ income, so that only 29% would accept to pay more taxes to increase Spain’s foreign aid to poor countries, against 63% who are not ready to pay more taxes for this purpose. Finally, and on the basis of a scale in which 1 means “highest priority should be given to helping reduce poverty in the world” and 10 means “highest priority should be given to solving Spain’s problems”, it may be seen that Spaniards give higher priority to solving Spain’s problems over those of the poor countries, since the average rating is 6.4 points. More specifically, one third of Rs positions among the five lower categories of the scale, closer to 0, as against two thirds who choose one of the five categories closer to 10.