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(Updates with poll details starting in second paragraph.)
Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Spain’s opposition leader Mariano Rajoy is poised to gain an absolute majority in parliament as he plans to cut taxes and revamp the banking industry to shield the euro area’s fourth-biggest economy from Europe’s debt crisis.
The People’s Party has a 17 percentage-point lead and would win 46.6 percent support if the Nov. 20 vote were held now, according to the survey conducted by state polling unit CIS from Oct. 6 to Oct. 23. That compared with 29.9 percent for the ruling Socialists led by Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, Madrid-based CIS said in an e-mailed statement today.
Such an outcome would give the PP, which already controls 11 of the 17 semi-autonomous regions, the largest majority of any Spanish government since 1982 in the election. The vote would translate into 190 to 195 seats for the PP, versus 116 to 121 for the Socialists, the CIS said. The Socialists are struggling to retain voters after imposing the deepest austerity measures in at least three decades as a three-year slump has pushed unemployment over 21 percent to a 15-year high.
The poll, which involved 17,236 interviews and had a margin of error of 0.76 percentage point, is in line with other surveys indicating the PP will return to government after eight years in opposition. The party is seen winning in 11 surveys conducted since Sept. 5 with an average 46.2 percent score, versus 31.5 percent for the Socialists.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero isn’t seeking re-election and his party chose Rubalcaba, the former deputy prime minister and interior minister, as its candidate. Close to 90 percent of the people surveyed by the CIS said the economic situation in Spain is bad or very bad and 62 percent condemned the Socialist government’s policies in the last four years.
When asked to rate the rival parties’ ability to manage the economy, 41 percent of the people surveyed favored the PP while 15 percent backed the Socialists. The PP has promised “restraint and rigor” to restore Spain’s AAA rating lost two years ago through a cost-cutting overhaul of the public sector and structural reforms in the labor market.
Spain’s borrowing costs were at 5.58 percent for 10-year debt at 2:20 p.m. in Madrid, close to the highest since the European Central Bank started buying Spanish bonds in August. Even with that support, the gap between Spanish and German yields is about 374 basis points, up from an average this year of 260 basis points.
The PP doesn’t give details of spending cuts in the electoral program it published on Nov. 1, although it says it will define some “basic services” in areas including health. The party would sanction local and regional administrations for overspending, and state-owned companies will be sold unless they do a better job than private companies, which will play a bigger role in managing public services and infrastructure.
The Socialists argue the wealthy and banks should be taxed to fund measures to create jobs, boost growth and support the welfare state. Party and government officials have accused the PP’s austerity plans, some of which have already been implemented by local PP governments in the regions, of “crossing the red line” and threatening “sacred” rights such as education and health care.
“About 31 percent of Spaniards haven’t yet decided who they will vote for,” Jose Blanco, Spain’s development minister and government spokesman, told journalists in Madrid today.
The CIS survey indicates that more than 80 percent of Spaniards believe the PP will win even as 27 percent said they were hesitating between the PP and the Socialists. Only 54 percent said they were definitely planning to vote.
The poll shows Rubalcaba as the candidate who personally inspires most trust for 61 percent of the people surveyed versus 58 percent for Rajoy. A minority of 21 percent said the PP would have done better than the Socialists during the last four years while 41 percent thought they would have done the same.
--Editors: Jennifer M. Freedman, Eddie Buckle
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