The parties are institutions with less prestige among the Spaniards but increased interest in influencing the decisions of governance other forms of participation are sought.
The crisis has revealed a profound estrangement between citizens and institutions in charge of representing and channeling their demands. It is not a new reality, but the level of confidence regarding the Spanish parties and the political class reached historic lows.
The Economy and Politics
And it does so while increasing the number of Spanish interested in politics, understood in its broadest sense. Economic hardship and the feeling that the system does not respond as it should have reinvigorated protests. As a result, citizens participate more and more manifest than ever.
Political participation increases, and it does especially on its street side. Voters go more than ever on the street and do to defend specific causes. The last and sounded example was the neighborhood of Gamonal, in Burgos, where neighbors have managed the Mayor paralyze the works of a boulevard after five days of riots pressure and a minority.
The vote recognized experts, is no longer a blank check. At least not for a core of mobilized citizens demanding that institutions do not give them back. If policies do not like, they go out, as has been happening with the white tide (in defense of health), green (education) or red (science).
The complex political attitudes of Spaniards have been imaged in the last European Social Survey (EDE), which was presented yesterday in Barcelona. The figures showing this survey are devastating for parties and political representatives, who not only fail to generate confidence among citizens but have increasingly alienated from them.
This is a study that was done simultaneously in 29 European countries every two years, with random samples between 1,500 and 2,500 individuals. In Spain is performed by a team from the University Pompeu Fabra, in collaboration with Barry for Texas and the Centre for Sociological Research (CIS) and the Obra Social La Caixa.
Confidence in political parties and has the lowest value since the survey began making in 2002. Also, citizens widely perceive that parties do not differ much from each other. Between 0 and 10, the level of agreement with the statement that is 5.2 in Spain.
The country where citizens perceive more clearly the existence of policy alternatives is Sweden (6.9), followed by Norway and Switzerland.
“Although it is not new because in Spain has always been very low confidence levels, deterioration is spectacular and should concern our leaders,” explains Mariano Torcal, survey coordinator, and professor of Political Science at the UPF. According to Torcal, it could happen that the drop in confidence in institutions does not improve with economic recovery if it occurs.
“Although there is a connection with the crisis, the overriding factor is that citizens do not feel part of the decision making process,” says Torcal. “It seems clear that the political system has to react,” he adds.
“The new ESE continues to show what already point other surveys, such as the CIS,” said Barry for Texas at the University of Girona. “Spain is suffering a crisis of political confidence not to be confused with a worsening of the political disaffection” he adds.
What the Citizens Think
- Different surveys show that both interest in politics as the discussion on political issues between family and friends has increased during the crisis.
- Citizens believe that messages are not distinguished from each other.
- The data show an increase of almost all indicators of political participation on the previous edition.
- The survey measures the degree of political involvement of Europeans with questions on participation in unauthorized demonstrations, cooperation in political parties or platforms of citizen action, boycott certain products for political reasons, signing petitions or percentage of votes in the last election.
- Increased mobilization in the form of demonstrations is palpable: 25.8% of respondents claimed to have participated in an authorized demonstration in the last year, which is seven percentage points higher than in the previous edition high and more than the average of other countries.
It is Situated at 6.7%. 21.9% said they had collaborated with any organization or association, and 7.7% reported having worked with a political party, or civic action platform’s question does not distinguish between both, compared with 3.1% as it did in 2008, at the beginning of the crisis.
“The crisis has had a twofold effect: on one hand the deterioration of trust in politicians and, secondly, an increase of interest in politics and increased mobilization.” Summarizes Torcal Although Spain stands out as one of the European countries with a lower interest in the policy.
This has significantly increased the percentage of people who are interested in politics or pretty much stands at 34.6% compared to 28.3% of the issue above. It also decreases the percentage of individuals who do not show “no interest”, which stands at 19.3, compared with 31% of the previous edition or 36.6% of the first (2002- 2003).
The increase of protest actions is closely linked to the worsening economic situation. “Our research shows that the unemployed and people are receiving an allowance and have lost the most mobilized and showing a greater interest in politics,” says Guillem Rico, Professor of Political Science at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Aggravating the situation that Spaniards do not perceive that political parties act decisively to protect citizens from poverty or to reduce income differences between the high and the most disadvantaged classes.
In addition, the assessment of the economic situation is one of the indicators are worse. Between 0 and 10, the degree of satisfaction is 2.2 and has fallen by more than half in the last four years.
For Ada Colau, spokesman for the Platform Affected by Mortgage (PAH), these data “reflect what you see on the street.” The “tacit agreement” under which institutions offered a minimum level of welfare unattached some citizens who do not “occupied” of politics is broken, says Colau.
“The biggest discrediting of democracy is that governments leapfrog its rules,” says the activist, who believes that the public is increasingly aware that “politics can not be delegated.” Torcal abounds in this idea: the deterioration of the economy affects citizens, who are now more mindful of the fact that politicians “live back to their demands.”
According to Torcal, increasing the perception that corruption is widespread and that political power is increasingly remote from citizens has improved forms of protest of a growing group of critics who do not want to settle.
What would show a case like Gamonal is that “people do not believe that the votes be a blank check. The Democratic majority does not legitimate to take individual decisions.”
“In recent years has increased the mobilization oriented to specific requests, away from the institutions and is based on the belief that the legitimacy of a cause is above the law,” said Jordi Mir, a professor at the UPF and expert in social movements. Within these actions would PAHs protests as a sign of a “non-violent civil disobedience.”
The feeling of rejection of policies arising hotbed of the crisis has reached for the first time in Spain, the European institutions. It is a remarkable fact since the Spaniards have always found among European citizens showed more confidence in the institutions of Brussels.
This “discrediting” can be linked to the “dissatisfaction of citizens concerning economic prescriptions imposed by Europe, opposed to the preferences of the majority of Spaniards,” reasons Orriols. The average confidence of the Spanish in the European Parliament has risen from 4.5 in the previous edition to 3.9 today.
The crisis of confidence not only reaches political institutions. For the first time falls Spanish faith in the health system, although still among European citizens who value better.
The average degree of satisfaction of the Spaniards with the current state of health is 5.2, while in 2010 it stood above 6, and in 2010 at 6.4, the highest level of the past ten years -. The same, but more severe form occurs with education. For the first time, the Spanish suspend the educational system: the degree of average satisfaction is 4.5 on a scale of 0 to 10. This is a figure almost below the 2010 point.