Celebrating 25 Years of Scoop
Special: Up To 25% Off Scoop Pro Learn More

Search

 

Cablegate: Spain: Gos Approval Slips to Lowest Level Since

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 004053

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN: GOS APPROVAL SLIPS TO LOWEST LEVEL SINCE
2004 ELECTION

REF: MADRID 3976

1. SUMMARY. Recent poll data shows GOS at lowest level of
popular support since coming to office in 2004. A massive
protest on November 12, organized mainly to protest GOS's
proposed reform of the Education Law drew between 400,000-2
million. This also reflects discontent with recent GOS
policies. The issue which has most effected the support of
GOS is the reform of the regional autonomy Statute for
Catalonia, which the main opposition party PP characterizes
as a constitutional reform in disguise and a danger to
national unity. The polls show that the GOS is loosing
support but former PSOE voters are apparently not defecting
to the PP, which is seen as having leadership problems and
being isolated and uncooperative. END SUMMARY.

2. According to the latest poll from CIS (the official
government pollster), an immediate general election would
give PSOE 39.7 percent of the vote, and PP 37.7 percent
(estimated 2 percent margin of error). In the March 2004
elections, PSOE won 42.64 percent of the vote and PP 37.64
percent. Also according to the poll, Zapatero,s average
rating on a scale of one to ten has dropped to under five (to
4.86) for the first time since the beginning of his
presidency, which the media characterizes as a "failing
grade" (the Spanish academic grading system gives a "pass" to
anything over 4.9 and a failure to anything under). A large
number of other recent polls show a decline in the rating of
the GOS. A November 7-8 poll published in liberal daily El
Pais gave PSOE 41 percent and PP 40 percent (estimated 3.1
percent margin of error), and a poll done by Noxa (headed by
prominent socialist Julian Santamaria) gave PP the lead, with
42.5 percent, whereas PSOE came in at 40.1 percent. See also
reftel section "Public Opinion" for more poll data and
analysis.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

3. The slippage in support for the GOS is not being taken
advantage of by the PP, as dropping percentages for the PSOE
are not translating into comparable increases in support for
the PP. The PP faces internal problems of leadership since
Jose Maria Aznar left Mariano Rajoy as a successor. According
to a poll by the conservative newspaper "ABC," 73 percent of
Spaniards think that the PP needs "new faces" (an opinion
shared by 61 percent of PP voters); and another 61 percent
believe that PP leader Mariano Rajoy has not yet solidified
his leadership in the PP. Also, the PP often votes in
Congress against all other political parties, giving it the
reputation of an isolated and often uncooperative opposition
party. The above-cited ABC poll concluded that 61 percent of
Spaniards believe that the PP has frequent problems with the
way in which it presents its proposals. Fifty-three percent
of Spaniards surveyed for a poll published in "La Vanguardia"
said that they thought that the PP's behavior as an
opposition party was "bad" or "very bad," and only 28 percent
said that it was either "good" or "very good."

4. Also reflecting the public discontent with GOS's recent
policies, a massive protest against Zapatero's proposed
reform to the Education Law took place in Madrid on November
12 drawing between 400,000 and 2 million people (400,000 by
police estimates, 2 million according to the organizers). The
reform is opposed by many conservative groups, including the
Catholic Church, because it would make the study of
Catholicism optional rather than mandatory in Spanish public
schools, it would allow students failing three subjects to
pass to the next grade level in some circumstances, it would
allow students to strike, and it would cut the core
curriculum between autonomous communities to only 55 percent.
The demonstration received the support of 839 associations,
58 of which are international. Although it was not officially
called by the Catholic Church or the PP, a number of
important PP leaders, as well as six Bishops, attended. The
protest was supposedly against a GOS proposed reform to laws
regulating the Spanish educational system, but is better
understood as a sign of a growing public discontent with GOS
on a variety of contentious issues, especially the reform of
Catalonia's Autonomy Statute, and immigration problems,
especially surrounding huge numbers of migrants jumping the
fence into Ceuta and Melilla. Embassy personnel who saw the
protest noted the prominence of banners against a variety of
GOS policies and for the protection of the Spanish
Constitution. After the high turnout for the demonstration
against the reform of the education law, the PP announced
that it is now preparing for a demonstration in Madrid on
December 3 in defense of the Spanish Constitution, which will
focus on the Catalan statute.

5. COMMENT: The coming months will be a critical time for the
PSOE, as issues such as the Catalonia reform come to a head,
and public opinion of the GOS may drop further, possibly even
giving an advantage to the opposition, depending the PP's
ability to take advantage of the turning tide of public
opinion. Popular support of the GOS will likely depend on
what concessions the GOS is eventually willing to make to the
Catalan regional government regarding the statute reform.
Adding to Zapatero's difficulties with Catalonia, two more
issues are complicating the GOS relationship with the region
and the way the GOS is seen in the rest of Spain: a) an
attempted takeover of the electricity company Endesa by
Catalan-based Gas Natural and b) the accusations of
corruption in the Catalan branch of the socialist party (PSC)
relating to loans from Catalan bank la Caixa. The PSOE's
reliance on Catalan nationalist parties in its governing
coalition has prevented it from taking a hard line on many
issues having to do with Catalonia - even on issues as
contentious as whether Catalonia will be allowed to define
itself as a "nation." Zapatero's management of the issues
surrounding the region and especially the statute reform in
the coming months will likely be a determining factor in
whether the GOS is able to maintain its advantage over the
PP. Although an ETA truce, if it ever happens, could save the
GOS's day.
AGUIRRE

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
World Headlines

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.