The Consulado del Mar, headquarters of the Balearic government.

The Consulado del Mar, headquarters of the Balearic government.

12-02-2011

How well do you think the Spanish government has been managing the crisis? How well do you think the Balearic government has been managing the crisis? How well do you think the opposition both to the Spanish government and the Balearic government has been managing the crisis?

The Palma-based Gadeso Foundation researchers have conducted their first survey of public opinion about coronavirus, and the answers to the above questions will provide modest satisfaction for both governments and little satisfaction for the oppositions. Forty-one per cent reckoned that the Spanish government has been managing things well or very well. Twenty per cent thought that this management was worrying. Twenty-four per cent said poor or very poor. Fifteen per cent were didn't knows. Not exactly an overwhelming vote of confidence, but then compare these percentages with the evaluation of the opposition. Nineteen per cent well or very well. Twenty-nine per cent worrying. Thirty-nine per cent poor or very poor, with thirteen per cent didn't knows.

For the Balearics, forty-five per cent believed that the regional government has been managing the crisis well or very well. Twelve per cent felt the management was worrying. Eighteen per cent said poor or very poor, while 25% didn't know. The opposition did fare rather better than at national level: 24% well or very well; 20% worrying; 30% poor or very poor; 26% didn't know.

The didn't knows are in a way rather revealing. One could interpret the fact that a quarter of respondents sat on the fence was due to the regional government having been overshadowed by Madrid. The crisis, what with the state of alarm having centralised command and therefore taken away much of the region's powers on a temporary basis, has meant that Congress and the Spanish government provide the attention and the theatre to a far greater extent than they normally would. The Balearic government's management, the clearest evidence of it anyway, has been with the health service response. It hasn't done too badly, but nor has it held centre stage.

The rather better figures for the opposition may also reflect this lesser attention, while they could also be an indication of their having behaved themselves. There have been the jibes and the criticisms, but these have been as nothing when compared with the national situation. The notably higher negative evaluations of the opposition give a combined factor of 24% more than the government.

While the Balearic population is well removed from the national seat of power, it - as with the populations of other regions - will have been observing proceedings in Madrid with acute interest and quite likely with some alarm. While certainly not giving the government a free pass, has the behaviour of the opposition been a principal cause - the principal cause - of its much lower ratings?

The Gadeso survey would seem to have been conducted before last week's shenanigans, but they will only have served to reinforce the fact that the main opposition parties - the PP and Vox - are not in the least bit interested in pursuing any course of national consensus and do indeed give the impression (more than just an impression in some instances) of being hellbent on trying to bring down the government.

Challenging policies and actions is one thing, but some of the behaviour has been an absolute disgrace. There have been reasons for being worried about the government's management, but for me the greatest worry has surrounded an issue that is tangential to this management - the dismissal by the interior minister of a senior Guardia Civil officer and a lame excuse of it having apparently been the time for a change. Highlight worries by all means, but last week's episode involving the PP's spokesperson Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo and Pablo Iglesias of Podemos left even members of the PP aghast. For example, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the PP president of Galicia, has said "enough of this type of show that we are seeing in Congress".

It's certainly not as if Iglesias is beyond reproach. He was smirking during the separate exchange with Iván Espinosa de los Monteros of Vox, which led the chairman of the reconstruction commission, Patxi López, to eventually apologise and observe that the citizens expect better.

But at the heart of all this is the new normal of Spain's politics - the breakdown in the one-time conventional system and the rise in populism of both left and right, with Podemos the lightning rod where the PP and Vox are concerned. Allied to this is the intent, abetted by elements of the media, to try and unearth some smoking gun of proof of government mismanagement, a particular obsession being the women's day marches. And is this obsession, especially with Vox, not really an expression of its clash with the feminism of Podemos?

The management of the crisis, for some, is incidental. The crisis is bringing the institution of Congress into disrepute, and it should stop. But unfortunately, it won't.

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