ASEP’s Indicators System
This month’s results present a paradox non observed till this moment, that while economic indicators drop abruptly, obtaining the worst results since the 2004 elections, political indicators and, in general, all those regarding the PSOE Government, have a very intense and significant increase. Therefore, there is a strong dissonance between the evaluation of the economic situation and that of the political situation, a dissonance that could hardly be maintained during the three or fourth months remaining until the next elections, which could be a consequence of the intense electoral campaign initiated by the Government with economic promises and decisions that affect specific groups of citizens. Consumer Sentiment Index decreases by six points, while the Evaluation of the National Economy decreases by four points, so that both indicators are now 16 and 26 points respectively below the equilibrium level, both representing too the worst results of the last twelve months and the worst since the last 2004 elections. The two indicators on savings are reduced significantly compared to October’s, showing the difficulties that a large part of society have to face the increase in the cost of living, which leads many Spaniards to spend their savings and even to live on credit. Personal Optimism loses eight points and is more and more below the equilibrium level, as it has been most part of the last twelve months. Satisfaction with the Quality of Life continues at very high levels, and post-materialism index continues also in low levels, implying a reinforcement of the hypotheses that Spanish society returns to giving higher priority to personal and economic security values, and as a consequence, to values emphasizing authority. Concerning political indicators, there is a seven point increase in Satisfaction with how Democracy is working in Spain, thus maintaining a high level of satisfaction, and Satisfaction with the Government gains sixteen points, obtaining one of the best results since the 2004 elections. Besides, political alienation slightly decreases due to a greater social mobilization that seems to have been initiated by the electoral pre-campaign, the ideological centre of gravity continues between the centre and the centre-left, Satisfaction with Spanish membership in the UE is reduced slightly, as well as the perception of benefits for Spain, the region and the respondent (though all four indicators continue at a very high level), and Exposure to Information loses 8 points. Regarding the image of institutions, this month’s ranking is the following: The Constitution (6.7 points in a scale 0 to 10 points), The Crown (6.6 points), Armed Forces (6.2), the Court for the 11-M terrorist attacks, Constitucional Court and National Government (5.4 points each), French Government (5.0), Banks (4.6), and the Government of Morocco (2.6 points in a 0 to 10 scale). As for the ranking of public leaders, Prince Felipe (6.3 points in a 0 to 10 scale) obtains the best rating this month. Three other leaders, Felipe González (5.8), Rodríguez Zapatero (5.4), José Bono (5.3) and Ruiz Gallardón (5.0) are the only three leaders being rated over 5 points. Below 5 puntos are rated Rodrigo Rato and Nicolás Sarkozy (4.6 points each), Rosa Díez (4.1), Gaspar Llamazares (3.9), Magdalena Alvarez (3.6), Mariano Rajoy (3.4), and José Mª Aznar (3.2 points in a 0 to 10 scale). Estimated abstention is reduced by 14 decimal points, and the difference between PSOE and PP increases by 35 decimal points, so that it is now 5.1 per cent points, something that confirms the hypotheses that greater participation generally favours PSOE and damages PP somewhat. The significant better indicators for PSOE in this survey seem to originate in the increase of estimated participation and in the promises and benefits that the Government has awarded as a consequence of the beginning of the electoral campaign. A significant improvement of IU and a clear loss of votes for nationalist parties also seem to be confirmed.
Evaluation of Government’s Policies and Actions
Respondents were ask to mention the three National Government’s actions, decisions or policies they liked better and the three they least liked, among a list of 16 which was presented to them. 61% of Rs mentioned “the Law of Equality between men and women” as the one they liked best, followed by “subsidies of 2,500 € for new births” (mentioned by 56%), “facilities for youngsters who want to rent a living unit” (45%), and the “Dependency Law” (36%). With respect to the least liked policies and actions, “negotiations with ETA” is the most mentioned (55%), followed by “the new Law of Education that allows to pass class with four flunking grades” (37%), “immigration policy” (34%), “pacts to for government with radical nationalists” (25%), “no asking for the illegalization of ANV” (23%), “linguistic policy in Catalonia” and “support to the new statute for Catalonia” (both mentioned by 20% each).
Possible Post-electoral pacts
Once more Spaniards have been asked to show their preferences regarding possible pot-electoral pacts on the assumption that none of the two main national parties, PSOE and PP, obtain an absolute majority. And, like in previous months, opinions are very equally distributed, so that 26% would prefer that the winning party reaches an agreement with nationalist parties, but 24% would prefer the winning party to make an agreement with the other national party (PSOE or PP), 22% would prefer that the winner makes no agreement at all, and 28% do not answer this question.
Responsibilities for the bad functioning of public services in Catalonia
A question has been asked about the main institution or organization guilty or responsible for the electricity lack of service, the lack of service of short distance trains and the large street fissures provoked by the AVE train works, and as potential responsible actors a private company, the government of Catalonia, a public firm, the present Spanish Government, the local government of Barcelona, the former Government of Spain, or nobody, were suggested. The result was that 21% of Rs believe that the main responsible for electricity cuts was a private company, though 19% believe that the main responsibility fell on the government of Catalonia, while other actors are not mentioned in proportions higher than 8% in each case, and 27% did not even answer. Regarding the short distance trains, 24% make the government of Catalonia responsible for its problems, 18% put the blame on the present Government of Spain, 16% on a private firm, and proportions lower than 6% mention each one of the other actors, besides 28% who did not answer the question. Finally, with respect to the street fissures related to AVE works, 21% of Rs put responsibility on the present Government of Spain, 19% put it on the government of Catalonia, and 17% on a private firm, while less that 6% in each case put the blame on other suspects, and 28% did not answer the question. Obviously, in this case the opinion of residents in Catalonia is of great interest. With respect to the three questions, one can see a significant decrease in the proportion of Rs who do not answer the questions, from 27-28 per cent in the national sample to 20-25 per cent in Catalonia. But attribution of responsibilities does not differ much in the case of electric energy cuts. Regarding short distance trains one may observe a significant change, as in the Catalonian sub-sample 38% put the blame in the present Spanish Government, 19% on a private company, 11% on the former Spanish Government, and only 10% on the government of Catalonia. As for the AVE street fissures, there are also some significant changes, so that 43% put the blame on the present Spanish Government, 20% on a private company, 8% on the former Spanish Government, and only 7% on the government of Catalonia.
Spaniards’ Opinions on Justice Courts and Judges
Neither Courts of Justice nor judges seem to enjoy a good social image. Complementing some results shown above, a part of the loss of image for Justice Courts seems to originate on the conflicts between PSOE and PP to appoint judges close to their ideologies and programs. More precisely, 25% of Rs think that the PP is the main responsible for the conflicts at the Constitutional Court, as against 10% who make the PSOE responsible for them and 21% who blame both parties. On a different question, 50% of Rs show themselves totally or rather in agreement with the verdict of the court that judged the 11-M terrorist attacks, as against 25% who say they are rather or totally in disagreement with that verdict. In addition, 26% of Rs believe that judges are totally or rather independent from political parties, while 48% believe that they are totally or rather dependent from them, opinions that are in contrast to others related to how judges should be, since 86% of Rs think that judges ought to be totally or rather independent from political parties, while only 2% believe that they should be totally or rather dependent from them.
The Royal Visit to Ceuta and Melilla
52% of Spaniards fully agree with the Royal visit to the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla, and an additional 32% say they are quite in agreement with the visit, as against 5% who disagree fully or partially.
Actions taken by the King and the President of the Spanish Government at the Latino-American Summit
48% of Spaniards say that they are in total agreement with the action taken by the King, telling the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, to “shut up”, at the recent Latino-American Summit held in Santiago de Chile. An additional 25% answer they are rather in agreement with that performance of the King, while 12% show themselves totally or partially in disagreement with his action. Similiarly, 75% of Rs say that they are in total or partial agreement with President Zapatero’s performance at that same summit, as against 10% who are in disagreement.
Liberation of the Spanish Aircraft Crew in Chad
31% of Rs believe that the rescue of the Spanish aircraft crew retained in Chad was due mainly or more to the President of France, Sarkozy, as against 12% who think that it was due totally or partially to the actions taken by Rodríguez Zapatero. Besides, 33% believe that it was equally due tot the actions of both dignitaries, and 19% do not have an opinion on this question.