One of the Popular Party’s key messages to the Spanish electorate is that it is the only party fit to run the economy. This week, further proof of the PP’s economic competence was offered - so Mariano Rajoy would say, anyway - by Bank of Spain governor Luis María Linde, who announced on Tuesday that Spain’s GDP growth this year might exceed the official forecast of 2.8%, possibly even climbing above 3%. This supports a similarly optimistic prediction offered by economy minister Luis de Guindos a couple of weeks ago - although of course he would make such an announcement.
It is, incidentally, virtually impossible to keep track of the number of times “official” economic forecasts are revised, which makes something of a mockery of them. Nevertheless, it’s clear what we’re supposed to conclude from the rosy macroeconomic outlook confirmed by Linde this week: that the Popular Party is doing a commendable job of driving the Spanish economy forward.
Why, then, do two recent polls suggest many Spaniards are, at best, indifferent to this message? A survey carried about by GAD3 for the Spanish newspaper ABC this week showed that the PP’s support has slumped by 3.5% since February, down to 30.7% from 34.2%. Meanwhile, a report released by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) last Sunday contained the finding that 78% of Spaniards born between 1980 and 2000 think that their opinions are ignored by Spanish politicians. Among the same cohort, the FEPS study revealed, 94% want to see someone in high office who is committed to fighting corruption.
The latter statistic confirms what we’ve known for a while now: that younger voters in Spain are completely disenchanted with the ruling political class - which includes the PSOE as well as the PP - because of its association with corruption. Indeed, the FEPS report came out on the very same day that Spain’s anti-corruption chief, Manuel Moix, was revealed to have been a part owner of a Panama-based company since 2012.
More damaging to the PP, though, is the fact that in July Rajoy will become the first prime minister in Spanish history to appear as a witness in court: he will testify in the so-called “Gürtel” case, involving a raft of kickbacks-for-contracts allegations among senior PP figures. For younger Spaniards, a gradually expanding GDP is irrelevant when compared to such apparently deep and endemic corruption within Spain’s ruling party.
More surprising is the ABC poll, which suggests that over the last four months Rajoy has lost support among his core - and traditionally older - voters, who are usually indifferent to the PP’s dire public image. More and more Spaniards, it seems, are neither listening to nor believing Rajoy’s constant assurances that the PP is qualified to run the Spanish economy.