Monday, January 20, 2003

Well, there are a few things from the Vanguardia over the last couple of days that are worth writing about. They did a survey of Barcelona voters about the mayoral election that is coming up, probably in May since the last one was in June 1999 and the term is a maximum of four years. Currently the mayor is Socialist Joan Clos, whose party is by far the biggest of the three in his governing coalition; the others are the Communist Initiative for Catalonia and the Catalan-independentista Republican Left. The candidates for the five parties that have a chance of getting on the City Council are, in order of their poll results: Socialist Clos with 45.0% of the vote, down from 45.2% in 1999; Catalan nationalist CiU's Xavier Trias with 26.1%, up from 21.7%; the conservative PP's Alberto Fernández Díaz with 10.6%, down from 14.9%, the Republican Left's Jordi Portabella with 10.4%, up from 6.5%, and the Communist-wacko Initiative for Catalonia-Green-United and Alternative Left coalition's Imma Mayol--she lives on my street but I sure the hell ain't voting for her--with 7.6%, up from 5.8% for Initiative only in 1999.

The breakdown for Council seats would be 19-20 for the Socialists, 11-12 for CiU, 4 for the PP, 4 for the Republican Left, and 2 for Initiative. A Socialist-Republican Left coalition would be sufficient to govern Barcelona for four more years should the election turn out like this, but I imagine they'd invite Initiative in anyway. Pas d'ennemis à gauche.

To the question "What's the biggest problem in Barcelona today?", 27% said crime, 17% said housing, 13% said immigration, 8% said unemployment, 8% said the cost of living, and 5% said traffic. 22% said "other". Allow me to pontificate: the 8% who said unemployment are those who are actually unemployed or underemployed, and the 8% who said cost of living and the 17% who said housing are lower-middle- / middle-class people who are not rolling in wealth. This adds up to 33% who are almost certainly going to vote for the Socialists or the Commies. The 5% who said traffic are taxi drivers and truck drivers, small-businessmen who are conservative by nature and will go with the PP or CiU. The 27% who said crime are likely to be conservative (middle-class, professionals, and small businessmen) and will go CiU or PP. The 13% who said immigration are nativists who will go with CiU or the Republican Left. And, of course, the whole point of the election is winning those 22% of "other" voters, which is what will push one party or another over to victory.

The caveat here, and I'm not just saying this because I sympathize with them, is that it is not socially acceptable in many circles in Barcelona to support the PP. The other four parties are OK because it's virtuous to be leftist and/or Catalan nationalist. The PP is the only one that is neither. So the estimate of the PP vote is a "hard" estimate; those are the people who are not ashamed to say they'll vote PP. They're already solidly committed voters and unlikely to change their minds between now and the election. Polls always undercount the PP vote. I'd estimate it at somewhere between 13 and 17% of the total on election night in Barcelona. I remember in 2000 when Aznar won reelection in a landslide; all the polls had been giving him a bare majority and predicted that he'd be forced into another coalition. A significant number of people wouldn't admit they were going to vote PP. The estimates for the other parties are "soft"; the Republican Left and Initiative, the two most radical alternatives, tend to do better in the pre-election polling than in the election itself, when people faced with the ballot box decide to go for the useful vote and give it to the Socialists.

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