Since the transition from the Franco dictatorship to full democracy the Spanish Royal Family have been held in general high regard by the people of Spain. Indeed many would argue that the transition would not have taken place but for King Juan Carlos. Republicans of course take a very different view of things but, for now, that is by the by.
However since the financial crisis started there has been a fall in the support for the Royal Household. This is partly explained with the major loss of confidence in Spain’s institutions but also by the King seemingly being totally of out touch with the problems faced by the average Spaniard. Add to that the corruption scandal surrounding Iñaki Urdangarin, the King’s son-in-law which implicates his wife, the Infanta Cristina, and the Royal Family is in major trouble.
This is reflected in the latest CIS opinion poll that shows the monarchy has an approval rating of just 3.68 on a scale of ten. The last time the Spanish people were asked for their valuation of the Royal Family was in October 2011 when they notched up 4.89, so they have lost 1.2 points since the various scandals hit. Out on the streets there have been major demonstrations demanding an elected head of State instead of a monarch.
Politicians have rallied to the Royals support claiming they have only lost favour only because of the collapse in the Spanish people’s trust in their institutions. When that comes back, they argue, so will their love of the King and his family. They fear that if the Royal family falls then so will Spain as we know it. They are right but this is also a case of the blind leading the blind because the politicians also seem not to be able to comprehend just how low they have sunk in the public’s estimation. Indeed if the Spanish are giving a major thumbs down to the Royals they are raising the middle finger to the politicos.
This is shown in the same CIS opinion poll which brings good news and bad news for the centre right Partido Popular. If an election was held now the PP would win with 34 per cent of the vote whilst socialist PSOE has just 28.2 per cent. Far left Izquierda Unida would come third with the UPyD fourth on 9.4 and 7.4 respectively.
However the real story is the collapse of support for the two main parties since the November 2011 elections. The PP governing amidst a worsening economic crisis and with the Bárcenas corruption scandal ringing in its ears has lost 10.4 support. PSOE has not been able to capitalise on Rajoy’s woes and has seen its support fall by a further six per cent. Only the minor parties such as the IU and UPyD have seen their popularity amongst voters gradually grow.
PSOE’s leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba is more popular than Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy but that is not saying a lot. Rubalcaba has an approval rating of 3 out of 10 down from 3.4 whilst Rajoy has fallen from 2.81 to 2.44.
The worrying factor is Spaniards do not trust the monarchy, the government, the banks and the politicians along with the institutions that surround them so who will they put their trust in? The answer, as I have stated here before from previous surveys, is the military and the security services and that is even more worrying still.
(The above article appeared in the London Progressive Journal on May 8 2013).