Monday, January 28, 2008

Spanish General Election 2008....The Opinion Polls Start To Move

The latest opinion polls on voting intentions published by Público and the Cadena SER show a change in the almost fixed pattern of the last few months. These are the first polls that take into account the after effects of l’affaire Gallardón and what they show is the governing PSOE increasing their advantage over the Partido Popular (PP) from around 2-3 points to a difference of 5-6. The situation up until now has been described by analysts as a “technical draw” on the grounds that the difference between the two main parties is small enough to fall within statistical margins of error. I have not been completely convinced by this description as the pattern of the polls has consistently placed one party (the PSOE) ahead of the other, but nevertheless it has been a sufficiently small margin to leave the outcome of the election looking very open.

These latest polls suggest that a stalemate is not the only possible result of the March 9th vote. A shift of 2 or 3 percentage points can make a big difference on the distribution of parliamentary seats. Now the question is going to be whether this widening of the gap is a temporary effect, or whether it is a sign that more voters have made up their mind and are opting for the government. The PSOE is seeking to keep the campaign lively to counteract the tendency towards abstention of part of their support, the general belief being that lower participation favours the right. The fuss over Gallardón is believed to have helped them in this because it reminds voters that those who are in charge of the PP are the same people who presided over the disaster of 2004. There is already an internet campaign combating abstention amongst left inclined voters. The shift in allegiances is a small tremor rather than a political earthquake, but it demonstrates that there are still votes to be won. It might seem hard to believe, but we are still not officially in the election campaign; that doesn’t start until mid-February!

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