ASEP’s Indicators’ System
If last month it was said that “the political situation seems to be at a dead point”, this month’s results suggest that both the political and the economic situation are immersed in a very rapid decreasing dynamic process, very similar to that experienced in 1992. All indicators, economic and political, have reached their lowest (or almost lowest) values since the economic crisis of 1992-93, indicating the increasing number of a higher proportion of the unsatisfied and pessimists than of the satisfied and optimists. More specifically, Consumer Sentiment loses 17 points and the Evaluation of the National Economic Situation loses 23 points. Consumer Sentiment is now 42 points below the equilibrium level, and the Evaluation of the National Economic Situation is 60 points below that level. And it does not seem that these indicators have reached their bottom yet, since regardless of what may still happen before the summer, perspectives for the fall are very pessimistic (since indicators that compare the future economic situation with the present one are very much below 100 with respect to the person (75) as well as with respect to the country (51), something which is really very unusual, as generally one thinks that the future will be better than the present). Of the two indicators on savings, propensity to save loses six points since last month, and the proportion of those who save decreases by five percent points, what suggests that total saving is decreasing. Both indicators receive the lowest values of the last twelve months and also of the last years. Personal Optimism also loses sixteen points since May, and positions itself 30 points below the level of equilibrium, more or less like in 199-93. Thus, the tree indicators that derive from Consumer Sentiment are this month very much below the equilibrium level, showing not only uncertainty and pessimism of Spaniards regarding the national and the personal economy, but real fear regarding what may happen, the Evaluation of the National Economic Situation being the most negative indicator and Personal Optimism being the least negative one, as usual. Though the three social indicators are less susceptible to variation, this month they are also affected by the general climate of discontent and pessimism. Satisfaction with the Quality of Life loses eight points. Post-materialism continues far from the 40% that was usual years ago, and loses two more points, receiving the worst evaluation since the beginning of this time series in 1988 (26%), confirming the concern of Spaniards with the present economic situation and the return of Spanish society, like many other post-industrial societies, to more materialistic values that give more emphasis to personal and economic security and consequently to more respect for authority. It could be that this sudden fall of the post-materialist orientation is the indicator that best describes the growing concern of Spaniards with the present and future situation of the national and the personal economies. Religious practice hardly varies from one month to another, as may be expected, since it is not an indicator that should vary in such short periods of time, but it is increasingly frequent that the average (in a scale 1 to 4 points) is below 2 points, though precisely this month it has recovered a decimal point and has reached again 2 points. With respect to the two main political indicators, Satisfaction with how Democracy is Working loses eight points, the lowest value since many years, and an indicator that might be might be showing Spaniards’ disgust with the present political situation, as well as certain fatigue and disappointment with how democratic institutions are doing. But results on Satisfaction with the Government are even worst, as it loses 23 points this month since May, being below the level of equilibrium for the first time since many years, and only three months since the last elections from which the present Government emerged. Political alienation increases by 5 points, and both the ideological centre of gravity as well as the nationalist-Spanish sentiment increase by one decimal point, something that implies, taking into account that they are arithmetic means, implies a slight change towards the centre and towards Spanish sentiment. However, Satisfaction with Spain’s membership in the European Union decreases by 5 points, while Exposure to Information gains three points. Regarding the public image of institutions, June is the month in which ASEP asks about the image of the main institutions of the State. This month’s (and year’s) ranking is the following: The Crown (5.9 points on a scale 0 to 10 points), Armed Forces (5.6), Ombudsman and the Local Government (5.3 points in both cases), Constitutional Court (5.2), Senate and Congress (5.0 in both cases), the National Government and the Entrepreneurial Organizations (4.6 in both cases), Labour Unions (4.5), Banks (4.4), Catholic Church (4.2), and Political Parties (4.1 points on a scale 0 to 10 points). Comparing these results with those of last year it is evident that all institutions receive lower ratings this year, as a consequence of the general climate of dissatisfaction and pessimism, except with respect to Armed Forces, that increase their rating by one decimal point. Institutions that have lost more since last year are the Entrepreneurial Organizations (4 decimal points), and the National Government and the Constitutional Court (3 decimal points). In the ranking of public leaders Prince Felipe receives this month the highest rating of all leaders included in the questionnaire (6.1 points in a scale 0 to 10 points), followed by Felipe Gonzalez (5.2). All other leaders included this month receive ratings below 5 points: Alberto Ruiz Gallardon (4.7), Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (4.5), Joaquin Leguina (4.2), Jose Antonio Alonso (4.1), Gaspar Llamazares, Mariano Rajoy, Esperanza Aguirre and Soraya Saenz de Santamaria (all with 3.5 points), and Jose Mª Aznar and Juan Costa (both with 3.3 points in the scale 0 to 10 points). All leaders included this month receive lower ratings than the last time that they were included, but those who have lost more since last month are Rodriguez Zapatero (6 decimal points) and Saenz de Santamaría (5 decimal points). Vote estimate this month indicates that there is a difference between PSOE and PP (still favourable to PSOE) of 1.6 percent points (almost half of the observed difference in the recent general elections), with a estimated abstention rate of 28.7%, which is two and a half per cent points higher than the observed rate in the recent elections in March. When comparing this month’s estimate with the results in the recent general elections one may observe a loss of 11 decimal points for PP, and a loss of 24 percent points for the PSOE, as well as a loss of one decimal point for right and centre nationalist parties. On the contrary, IU gains 5 decimal points, UPD and left nationalists gain 3 decimal points each, and “other non-parliamentary parties” continue at the same level than in the past elections. This vote estimate suggests that the present economic crisis is damaging PSOE much more than internal tensions damaged PP. But, while tensions within PP seem to have ended with this party’s Congress in Valencia, economic crisis will not only continue, but they seem to become worst.
Opinion about Relations between the Government and Other Parties
Once political activity restarts little by little after the March 9’s elections, it has seemed appropriate to ask Spaniards their opinions with respect to relations between the Government and other political parties. Thus, in the first place a question was posed regarding the relations between the Socialist Government and the main party in the opposition, the PP. Almost half the Rs (49%) think that relations are now the same as those before the elections, and similar proportions think that they are now better (18%) or worst (22%). Furthermore, a question has also been posed regarding the relations between the Socialist Government and nationalist parties. Also in this case a majority (52%) think that they are now the same as in the previous legislature, but in this case those who think that relations are now worst predominate (20%) over those who think that they are now better (10%).
Evaluation of Government’s Performances
Although there are few new governmental policies since the last elections, Rs were asked to indicate their agreement or disagreement with seven policies or specific performances of the Government, though it is true that in some cases they are not new policies but continuity of certain old policies. The first thing that stands out from the data is that Spaniards are more in disagreement than in agreement with the seven policies included in the questions. As a matter of fact, both proportions are almost equal with respect to “governmental measures regarding the policy to put an end to ETA’s terrorism”, but disagreement predominates (in greater or lesser degree with respect to each one of the policies mentioned below) with respect to water supply, immigration policy, linguistic policy, policy towards separatist or independentist nationalisms, policy against unemployment and, finally, the largest disagreement refers to the policy to stop rising prices.
Perception of Agreement-Disagreement between PSOE and PP regarding specifc policies
After the March elections a significant change in the relations between PSOE and PP has been observed, a change that has undoubtedly implicated a reduction in the strong confrontation between them that characterized the previous legislature, and some political analysis (especially those elaborated in these FLASHES by ASEP), have predicted that there will be state agreements between the two main national parties (PSOE and PP). For this reason it seemed interesting to know to what point citizens had detected a certain rapprochement to cooperate in certain issues between the two main parties. Consequently Rs have been asked to specify whether they perceived a significant agreement or disagreement between the two large national parties regarding the seven national policies mentioned above. The first results are quite surprising, since Spaniards perceive a great disagreement between the two parties with respect to each one of the seven already mentioned policies, rank-ordered below from the one where minimum disagreement is perceived (which nevertheless is very large) till the one where maximum disagreement is perceived: policy to put an end to ETA’s terrorism, linguistic policy, policy against unemployment, policy to stop rising prices, water-supply policy, immigration policy, and policy towards separatist and independentist nationalisms (which is the policy with respect to which Spaniards perceive the largest disagreement between the two major political parties).
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 1,203 face-to-face interviews were obtained at respondent’s home in May 9-15. Research direction: ASEP.