Sunday, January 25, 2004

Spanish elections update: As you know, the general elections here are scheduled for March 14. El Pais, the pro-Socialist Madrid daily, published some poll results today. The People's Party has 42.5% of the vote, which would give them between 171 and 175 seats (an absolute majority is 176); the Socialists have 37.0% and are looking at 135-138 seats. The Communists are polling 5.5%.

On a ten-point scale, with 1 as lousy and 10 as great, the voters give Rajoy an average score of 5.25, the PP Administration 5.18, the Socialist Party 4.80, and Zap himself 4.59. (Note: This polling formula is very common in Spain.) So, candidate Rajoy is more popular than his party, while candidate Zap is less popular than his.

66.4% think that Rajoy will be the next Prime Minister, while only 11.7% think it will be Zap.

These numbers are pretty overwhelming. With seven weeks to go in the campaign, the PP has a big, big lead, and since their party is much more sophisticated and better organized than the PSOE, I see their lead getting bigger and bigger. The Socialist editorial writers for El Pais say that there should be a debate between the candidates--American-style debates are rare in Spain. If I were Rajoy I'd say no, since in a debate the favorite is risking his lead and has really nothing to gain, while the underdog is risking nothing and has the chance for big gains. No point in giving Zap a chance to look good on prime-time national TV.

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