ASEP’s Indicators System
All most significant indicators this month are again worst, in greater or lesser degree, than last month’s, as a consequence of the evident deterioration of the political situation and the confrontation between major political parties. Consumer’s Sentiment decreases by two points, while the Evaluation of the National Economic Situation decreases by three points, so that both indicators are 12 and 22 points respectively below the equilibrium level, and both are also the second worst results of the last twelve months. The two indicators on savings increase significantly with respect to last September, as one could expect because that is what happens whenever public opinion “smells” a coming economic crisis, to the point that both indicators reach their higher level of the last twelve months. Personal Optimism loses two points and is again below the equilibrium level, as it has been during the last twelve months with the exception of July and September 2007. Therefore, the three indicators that derive from the Consumer’s Sentiment Index are this month below the equilibrium level, with the Evaluation of the National Economic Situation as the most negative of the three, and Personal Optimism as the least negative, as usual. Satisfaction with the Quality of Life continues at very high levels, but loses one point with respect to September, so that it is the lowest value of the last twelve months. Regarding the remaining indicators one should underline another fall of post-materialism index, which loses six other percent points this month, reaching its lowest (worst) value of the last twelve months (like in February this year), something that implies a new reinforcement of the hypothesis that Spanish society gives higher priority to personal and economic security values, and as a consequence, to values that emphasize greater respect for authority, giving lower priority to other post-materialistic or emancipation values. Among political indicators, Satisfaction with how Democracy is working increases by two points, and therefore maintains a high level of satisfaction. Satisfaction with the Government, however, loses six points, its worst value since the 2004 elections. Besides, political alienation is higher than that observed since February this year, the ideological centre of gravity moves one decimal point towards the centre (it now stands exactly between the centre and the centre-left), Satisfaction with Spain’s membership in the European Union increases, and Exposure to Information loses 11 points, staying exactly at the equilibrium level. This month’s ranking of image of institutions is the following: Red Cross (7.6 points on a scale 0 to 10 points), Caritas (7.2), ONCE (7.0), The Crown (6.4), National Police (6.3), Civil Guard (6.1), Armed Forces (6.0), Courts of Justice and the National Government (4.9 points each), and Banks (4.5 points on the 0 to 10 scale). One should underline the significant increase this month in the evaluation of The Crown, seven decimal points more, reaching the highest (best) rating of the last twelve months, a finding that may be interpreted as a reaction of public opinion to support and praise The Crown and The King against the burning of royal photos and other acts of aggression and criticism to The Crown and members of the Royal Family. As for the ranking of public leaders, Queen Sofia (6.8 points on a scale 0 to 10 points) and Felipe Gonzalez (5.3) are the only leaders who get a rating that goes beyond the barrier of 5 points. Below 5 points are, therefore, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (4.7), Rodrigo Rato (4.1), Gaspar Llamazares (3.7), Mariano Rajoy (3.4), and Jose Mª Aznar (3.1 points on the scale 0 to 10). It must be underlined that Rajoy is this month the leader who improves most (three decimal points), but Aznar (two decimal points) and Felipe Gonzalez (one decimal point) also get better ratings. Voting estimate reflects this month the worsening of the most significant indicators, both economic and political, so that estimated abstention increases by 11 decimal points, and the difference between PSOE and PP is reduced by 22 decimal points, so that it is only 1.6 per cent points, a result that seems to confirm the hypothesis that abstention generally favours PP and damages PSOE a little more. However, this month’s decrease in the difference between PSOE and PP seems to derive not only from the turn out-abstention factor, but also from some other factors that may have had an effect to increase PP’s results in the 2004 elections by 7 decimal points, while leading PSOE to loose 15 decimal points by comparison with its 2004 results. A significant improvement in voting estimate for IU seems also to be confirmed by this month’s results, as well as a clear loss of votes for nationalist parties.
As in previous surveys, some questions have been asked to inquire about the political party that inspires greater confidence to carry out policies in different areas. When analyzing these questions, as has been said in other occasions, one should take into account that the proportion of the sample that manifests itself favourable or closer to PSOE is about twice as large as that which manifests itself favourable or closer to PP, both with respect to vote recall and vote intentions, something that does not correspond to reality, and implies the existence of a clear over-estimation of vote for PSOE and under-estimation of vote for PP, errors that are corrected through the vote estimate that is calculated every month, but which cannot be corrected for other questions. This implies, as was said in last month’s report, that when asking this type of questions, the great majority of Rs answer that PSOE is doing better, or will perform better, any public policy. This month’s results confirm this comment once more. But as that was expected, the important analysis consists on signalling out those policies where the difference in favour of PSOE is greater and those where the difference is lower. More concretely one may observe that a larger proportion of Rs answer that PSOE would do it better than PP regarding the elderly, the fight against males’ violence, the youth, but the difference is smaller regarding housing policy, fight against unemployment, policy towards household economics, immigration policy, and international relations. Besides, the difference between the proportions who mention one or the other party are very small with respect to what party would do it better with respect to fighting ETA and providing street security. Regardless of this comparative measure, one can also confirm that the areas in which PP is more mentioned refer to street security, fighting ETA, immigration and international relations (between 27% and 23%). On the contrary, the areas where PSOE is more mentioned refer to youth and old age policies, males’ domestic violence and fighting unemployment (between 44% and 40%).
Actions that Spaniards consider more urgent
A list of nine possible actions has been proposed to Rs so that they could mention, in the first place, the degree of urgency to be performed that they thought each action deserved, using for that purpose a five points scale from “Very urgent” to “Not urgent at all”. The nine actions have been rank-ordered from the one considered as more urgent to that considered less urgent. It must be mentioned that all indexes are higher than 100, implying that all nine actions are considered by Spanish public opinion as having some degree of urgency. The ranking of urgent actions is the following: keeping violent groups from acting in the streets no matter their reasons, stopping irregular immigration, agreement between PSOE and PP on most important State issues, forcing the return of Spanish troops from fighting conflict areas, defending the unity of Spain and national symbols, passing a law that establishes once and forever the powers of the Government of Spain and those of the regions (Autonomous Communities), passing the Law of Historic Memory, passing a new Electoral Law that stops favouring small political parties, and establishing a strong party between PSOE and PP. But, regardless of these questions, a direct question has also been asked about which of these actions seems more urgent to R. In this case the order of the two more mentioned actions according to the previous list is reversed, so that the most urgent action seems to be the one relative to stopping irregular immigration (mentioned by 25% of Rs), followed by the one that refers to stopping the actions of violent groups in the streets (mentioned by 19% of Rs), and almost in the same proportion the need for an agreement between PSOE and PP on the most important State issues (18%) as well as favouring the return of all Spanish troops in areas of fighting conflict (13%). The rest of actions were mentioned by less than 10% of Rs as the most urgent. Nevertheless, and since a question was also asked about the second most urgent action, the two mentions have been added, and the ranking is the following: preventing the arrival of more irregular immigrants (cited by 47% of Rs as the most or the second most urgent action), preventing the actions of violent groups in the streets (43%), agreement between PSOE and PP for the most important State issues (29%), return of all Spanish troops in fighting conflict areas (25%), defend the unity of Spain and the national symbols (13%), passing a law that establish once and forever the powers of the Government of Spain and those of the regions (Autonomous Communities) (11%), passing the Law of Historic Memory (7%), passing a new Electoral Law (6%), and establishing a strong party between PSOE and PP (3%). In summary, the three rankings are practically the same, with only some small variation in the ranks between the actions of violent groups and preventing the arrival of irregular immigrants, and between the defence of the unity and symbols of Spain and the passing of a law establishing the powers of the Government of Spain and those of the regions. Data show a great coherence on the part of Rs, something that provides great reliability to results.