Monday, December 3, 2012

Spaniards lose faith in political leaders in crisis - survey

MADRID (Reuters) - Spaniards are losing trust in their political leaders as the ruling center-right government imposes spending cuts to try to meet a difficult deficit target, a survey published on Sunday in the country's leading newspaper El Pais showed.

Rajoy's People's Party came to power at the end of 2011 and has introduced over 60 billion euros ($78 billion) of spending cuts to end-2014. Europe's fourth largest economy is suffering its second recession in three years and the unemployment rate stands at 25 percent.

More austerity is likely to make matters worse as Spain tries to avoid the downward spiral suffered by Greece and Portugal, both of which needed international bailouts.

Almost 90 percent of Spaniards see the country's political situation negatively, the Metroscopia poll showed, while 85 percent have little or no faith in Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Seventy-one percent said they disapproved of him, a rate 20 percentage points higher than in March. Support for the government has tumbled since then, though it picked up slightly in November.

The poll, carried out on November 28 and 29, interviewed 1,000 people across Spain. It showed 68 percent of people think the government does not know what it is doing and is improvising, slightly down from 70 percent in last month's poll.

The survey was conducted before the government broke another election campaign pledge on Friday to save cash by not raising pensions in line with inflation, a move likely to make the government even more unpopular.

Rajoy said in a newspaper interview on Sunday that meeting the European Union-agreed deficit target of 6.3 percent for 2012 was "very complicated".

Other political parties fared little better. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed thought Catalan leader Artur Mas should resign after his party failed to secure the "absolute majority" he asked for in regional elections.

Eighty-one percent of Socialist voters said they distrusted leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.

The survey showed the PP would still win a general election, with 31.3 percent of the vote - far below a 46.4 percent peak in March.

Support for smaller parties is growing - United Left would secure 13.3 percent of the vote compared to 7.7 percent in January, while centrist party Union, Progress and Democracy would win 10.2 percent of votes, up from 4.6 percent in January.

($1 = 0.7689 euros)

(Reporting by Clare Kane; Editing by Louise Heavens)


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