ASEP’s Indicators System
One month alter the last elections Spanish public opinion does not seem to be more satisfied than before they were held, as different indicators, and especially economic indicators, demonstrate. Thus, the main economic indicators, as was expected, continue very much below the equilibrium level, reaching the lowest values in years, indicating the growing weight of those who feel unsatisfied and pessimist over the satisfied and optimist ones. More concretely, Consumer’s Sentiment loses nine points, and Evaluation of the National Economy loses eleven points, so that both indicators obtain even worst values than in April 2003, when the Iraq conflict was taking place, and similar values than at the beginning of 1995, when inflation and unemployment increased very significantly in Spain. Consumer’s Sentiment is now 25 points below the equilibrium level, and the Evaluation of the National Economy is 38 points below that level. It may be that Spain is not going through an economic crisis, as the Government claims, but citizens seem to think differently. Of the two indicators on saving, Saving Propensity decreases six points with regard to February, and the Proportion of Savers is reduced by four percent points. Both indicators obtain their lowest values within the last twelve months. Personal Optimism also loses seven points since February, and is now 15 points below the equilibrium level, its worst result since 2003. Therefore, the three indicators that derive from the Consumer’s Sentiment Index not only continue this month below the equilibrium level, but they sink more and more, reflecting the uncertainty and pessimism of Spaniards with respect to the national and the personal economies, the Evaluation of the National Economy in Spain being the most negative indicator of the three, and the Optimism Index being the least negative, as usual. Other social indicators are less liable to variation, though from one month to the next slight variations may occur. Satisfaction with the Quality of Life remains at very high values and loses one point this month. Post-materialism continues far from the 40% that was usual years ago, and for the first time is below 30%, obtaining its worst value since the beginning of this time series in 1988, a fact that seems to confirm the return of many post-industrial societies, and in particular Spain, to more materialistic values that emphasize personal and economic security as well as more respect for authority. Religious practice almost does not vary from one month to the next, as one may expect, since it is not an indicator that should vary in short periods of time. Of the two main political indicators Satisfaction with how Democracy is working loses one point, while Satisfaction with the Government gains one point. Both indicators remain at levels above the equilibrium level. The other political indicators (political alienation, ideological centre of gravity, and Spanish-nationalist identification) remain at levels similar to those of last month, and in general hardly vary from one month to the next. Satisfaction with Spain’s membership in the European Union continues at similar levels than previous month, and it even gains four points this month. Regarding the image of institutions, this month’s ranking is the following: The Crown (6.1 points in a 0 to 10 scale), the Armed Forces (5.9), the Spanish Electoral System (5.1), the Government of Spain (5.0), the Supreme Council of the Judicial Power (4.5), Courts of Justice (4.4), Banks (4.3), Judges (4.2) and Political Parties (4.1 points on a 0 to 10 scale). By comparison with the last rating obtained by each institution, all institutions show this month a lower evaluation than the last one they received, except Political Parties that gain two decimal points. Judges, Courts of Justice and the Supreme Council of the Judicial Power are the institutions that lose more, between six and five decimal points each. According to the ranking of public leaders Adolfo Suarez receives this month the highest rating (6.2 points on a 0 to 10 scale) followed by Infanta Elena (5.6), Felipe Gonzalez (5.3) and Rodriguez Zapatero (5.0). All other leaders receive this month ratings below 4 points: Calvo Sotelo and Ruiz Gallardon (4.9), Bono (4.8), Soraya Saenz de Santamaria (4.1), Mariano Rajoy (3.9), Fernandez Bermejo (3.8), Esperanza Aguirre (3.7), and Aznar and Llamazares (both 3.5 on the scale 0 to 10 points). Voting estimate this month shows a difference between PSOE and PP (still favourable to PSOE) 3.5 per cent points, with an estimated abstention rate of 23.4%, which is 2.8 points lower than that observed in the elections of last March. When comparing this month’s estimate with the results of the last elections one may conclude that the majority of parties is gaining electoral support, but this finding only reflects the fact that estimated abstention in this month’s survey is lower than that really obtained in March’s election. As a matter of fact these gains are normal after elections, since the proportion of those who claim to have voted tends to increase, so that all parties receive higher voting estimates than they have really had. For this reason, only nationalist parties lose on decimal points each, as well as voters for “other” parties, and estimated abstention is 28 decimal points below the real result (which is what justifies the increase in voting estimates for most parties). Voting estimates resulting from April’s survey suggest that not even electoral results have an influence on Spaniards’ attitudes. Everything seems to be as it was before elections, as it has been during the four years between the 2004 and 2008 elections. The message is always the same: similar voting intentions for PSOE and PP, with a very slight difference in favour of PSOE, as happened in 2004, and even a smaller difference in 2008. Nevertheless, it does not seem likely that this situation will crystallize during four more years, rather one should expect changes in the short run.
Evaluation of Electoral Results
The majority of Spaniards seem to be rather satisfied with electoral results, 52% to be precise, but one third are unsatisfied with results. When those who are unsatisfied are asked about the result they would have preferred, about half of them mention a victory of PP by absolute majority, and more than one fourth would have preferred a victory of PP even if by a non-absolute majority. In sum, therefore, almost three out of each four unsatisfied Rs with electoral results would have preferred a victory of PP.
The Election Session in Parliament
Two out of every three Spaniards know that Zapatero was elected in the second voting session, and only with the support of its elected MPs, a finding that suggests a high interest and a high level of information on important political issues. Nevertheless, it must be underlined that one third of Rs did not know that Zapatero was elected in the second voting session. Half the Rs, besides, know that PP voted negatively in the two voting sessions, a knowledge that is evidently even more specialized than the former, But when Rs are asked about what they would have wished the PP to vote, half of them do not answer, and one fourth of them say that they would have wished the PP to vote negatively in the two voting sessions.
The New Legislature
The past legislature has shown a great confrontation, to the point that mass media, different sectors of society, and especially public opinion at large, have been demanding since a long time ago a new legislature of agreement and collaboration between the two main political parties. But, in spite of the fact that PSOE as well as PP seem to have began this new legislature with a new approach, trying to avoid former confrontations, public opinion does not seem to be convinced that they will change their performance, so that though 30% think that this legislature will be more calm and that there will be agreements between PSOE and PP, still 53% believe that this legislature will be like the preceding one. Confirming our initial commentary, three out of every four Spaniards would desire that this legislature will be more calm than the former one, with agreements between PSOE and PP. Last, and thinking about the new legislature, Rs were asked to indicate the three measures that they considered more urgent for the Government to adopt within the next four years. It may be noticed that when Rs were asked to mention the most urgent measure 31% mentioned “Government’s intervention to stop rising prices”, and 23% mentioned “Adopting measures to confront economic crisis”. Around 10% in each case mentioned “An agreement between PSOE and PP on the most important State issues” and “To prevent the arrival of more undocumented immigrants” respectively. When the three measures that each R could mention are taken into account, the same measures and in the same order are repeated, though giving some more preference to preventing the arrival of more undocumented immigrants over the agreement between PSOE and PP.