ASEP’s Indicators’ System
The political situation seems to be on “stand by”, as was already suggested in last month’s Flashes, and consequently no significant changes are observed in the System of Indicators, in spite of the fact that the economic situation not only is not on “stand by”, but, on the contrary, is on the process of continuous deterioration. The main economic indicators continue very much below the equilibrium level, in their lowest values since many years ago, indicating that the unsatisfied and the pessimists predominate over the satisfied and optimists. But they have not been worst this month. More specifically, Consumer Sentiment maintains the same value as in April, and the Evaluation of the National Economic Situation gains one point. Consumer Sentiment is now 25 points below the equilibrium level, and the Evaluation of the National Economic Situation is 37 points below that level. Of the two indicators on saving, saving propensity increases two points with respect to last month, and the proportion of savers increases by one percent point, two facts that generally accompany economic uncertainty. Personal Optimism gains also one point since February, and is 14 points below the equilibrium level, one of its worst results since 2003. Thus, the three indicators that derive from the Consumer Sentiment continue this month below the equilibrium level, but they have not worsened, reflecting Spaniards’ uncertainty and pessimism with regard to the national and personal economy. The other social indicators are less susceptible of variation, though there may be small variations from one month to another. Satisfaction with the Quality of Life continues at very high levels and gains one point this month. Post-materialism continues far from the 40% that was usual years ago, and loses another point this month, obtaining its worst result since the start of this time series in 1988 (28%), something that in addition to reflecting Spaniards’ concern about the present economic situation seems to confirm a return of Spanish population, as many other post-industrial societies, towards more materialist values that put more emphasis on personal and economic security, as well as more respect on authority. Religious practice varies very little from one month to another, as could be expected, since it is an indicator that should not vary in such short periods of time, but it is increasingly frequent that the average (on a scale 1 to 4 points) is below 2 points. Considering the two main political indicators, it may be seen that Satisfaction with how Democracy is working in Spain loses five points, the second worst value during the last twelve months, and an indicator that may be showing a certain disgust of Spaniards with the present political situation, as well as certain disappointment with how democratic institutions are working. In this situation of political apathy it doesn’t seem rare to see that Satisfaction with the Government gains another point. Both indicators continue in levels above the level of equilibrium (very much above in the case of Satisfaction with how Democracy is working, which is 149 on a scale 0 to 200, while Satisfaction with the Government is only 12 points above the equilibrium level). The other political indicators (political alienation, ideological centre of gravity, and Spanish-nationalist sentiment) remain in similar values than last month, and in general vary very little from one month to another, though they all are slightly worst. Satisfaction with Spain’s membership in the European Union also persists, though it loses three points this month. With respect to the image of institutions, this month ranking is the following: The Crown and the European Union (6.1 points in a scale 0 to 10 points), Armed Forces (6.0), United Nations (5.7), National Government (5.2), NATO and the State’s Attorney General (4.8), Banks (4.5), and the New Statute for Catalonia (3.9 points on a scale 0 to 10 points). The different rating of The Crown and Armed Forces on one side, and the National Government and other political institutions on the other side is consolidating month after month, with the former being evaluated much higher than the latter. As regards the ranking of public leaders Princess Letizia receives this month the highest rating among all leaders (5.9 points on a scale 0 to 10 points), followed by Felipe Gonzalez (5.5), Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (5.1) and Jose Bono and Mª Teresa Fernandez de la Vega (both 5.0). All other public leaders included this month received ratings below 5 points: Jose Antonio Alonso (4.4), Miguel Angel Moratinos (4.2), Soraya Saenz de Santamaria (4.0), Gaspar Llamazares (3.8), Mariano Rajoy (3.7), Jose Mª Aznar (3.4), Eduardo Zaplana (3.3) and Angel Acebes (3.2 points on the scale 0 to 10 points). Voting estimate this month indicates that there is a difference between PSOE and PP (still favourable to PSOE) of 3.3 per cent points (4 decimal points larger than the one observed at the last elections), with 26.4% estimated abstention, which is two decimal points higher than that observed in the March elections. Comparing this month’s estimate with results of the recent elections one may observe a loss of 4 decimal points for PP. Only center-right nationalist parties lose a little more (5 decimal points), reflecting the internal problems that CiU and PNV are suffering on account of their bad electoral results, which have created all sort of internal tensions between different internal political currents. Other parties not represented in Parliament also lose 5 decimal points. On the contrary, PSOE seems to maintain exactly its electoral support in the last elections, while IU gains 4 decimal points, left-nationalists (ERC, BNG, and NaBai) gain 3 decimal points, and Rosa Diez’s UPD gains 2 decimal points. Of course, these absolute loses and gains have a very different relative weight depending on the electoral support received by each party in the recent elections. Voting estimate resulting from this month’s survey suggests that the political “stand by” that has existed for the past two months, together with the internal tension within the PP, have modified very slightly the different electoral support for the two main parties, so that the difference between PSOE and PP remains very small, and only slightly higher than in the recent elections, but of course smaller than the one observed in the 2004 elections.
Sentences that should be Applied to certain Crimes
This is the third time that ASEP has asked about the sentences that should be applied to certain crimes, the first one in February 2007, the second one in December 2007, and the third one now in May 2008. In all three occasions the question was asked in a social context not affected by any crime especially well known or salient for public opinion. The first question that must be underlined is that in all three dates more than 80% of Rs think that there are “crimes that deserve sentences longer than 40 years in prison”. As is known, the last reform of the Penal Code established 40 years as the maximum time of permanence in prison for any crime, regardless of its importance. Results are very conclusive: less than 15% of Spaniards support that legal limitation while more than 80% believe that there are crimes that deserve longer sentences. And, when Rs are asked more specifically about the sentences that they would consider adequate for certain crimes, it is observed that Spanish public opinion goes much further than the present legislation regarding its repression. More concretely, less than 50% of Rs think that terrorist, pederasts, domestic violence aggressors, home attackers, narco-traficants, and careless car drivers who have caused the death of some person should remain 40 years or less in prison. That is, a majority believes that they should all receive stronger sentences. The proportion of Spaniards that would impose life imprisonment until death in prison or even death sentence is over 50% with respect to “terrorists who have killed 20 or more persons”, “pederasts that kidnap a 12 years old girl, who rape her and afterwards kill her”, and “domestic violence aggressors who generally beat their wife and finally kill her”. Between one third and half the Rs consider that “home attackers who torture the owners…and finally kill them”, as well as narco-traficants…who may have caused the death of more than 20 youngsters” deserve life imprisonment until they die in prison and even death sentence. Finally, it should be underlined that in spite of the short time between the first research in February 2007 and this research of May 2008 (one year and three months), Spaniards’ opinions have grown increasingly harder, that is, the proportions who ask for death sentence or life imprisonment until dying in prison have grown over time with respect to all crimes mentioned above.
The Territorial Organization of the State
This question has also been asked many times, more concretely in eleven occasions during the last twelve years. And results have varied very little, suggesting that around half the Spaniards prefer that everything remains as it is now, but while the proportion who would desire that “the National Government recovers some powers already transferred to the regions” has grown till around 15%, the proportion who would prefer a federal State has declined till less than 10%, and the proportion who think that “regions who so desire should be able to declare themselves independent and separate from Spain” has decreased till less than 5%. This month’s data reinforce the idea that Spaniards do not want a Federal State nor the segregation of certain regions as autonomous states, autonomous and independent from Spain.
Concern about the Unity of Spain
More than 60% of Spaniards would be very or rather concerned in case that Spain would cease to be a united country and would break into several independent countries. This opinion is very similar to that obtained more than one year ago, in February 2007. On the contrary, those who would worry little or even nothing, or would not care at all, add up to about one third of Rs in both surveys, the present one in May and the former one more than one year ago. Apart from the personal concern about the potential break up of Spain, in three occasions (February and September 2007 and now in May 2008) a question has been asked regarding how much R defends firmly and with efficacy the unity of Spain or, on the contrary, is actively cooperating to its fragmentation. About half the number of R”s in the three surveys was of the opinion that the National Government is defending firmly and with efficacy the unity of Spain, and about one third has ever thought that the Government is contributing to its fragmentation.
Technical data: National stratified sample by region and size of habitat, random selection of municipalities and census sections (about 130 sampling points), random routes and final selection of respondent in the household based on stratification by sex and age. A total of 1,209 face-to-face interviews were obtained at respondent’s home in May 12-18. Research direction: ASEP.