In the same week, two important pieces of information came to fuel optimism about the economy’s progress: it was learned that 238,000 jobs were created in April and that there were already more than 20.6 million Social Security contributors. Two days ago GDP grew by 0.5% in the first quarter (5.5% growth in 2022). It is not certain that the next few months will be very good, but experts believe that the trend is positive. Will the good performance of the economy determine the fate of the upcoming elections?
The precedents of similar situations in Spain and abroad do not allow this to be clouded, however, good economic data favors the electoral fortunes of governments. What matters is the feelings this information creates among a majority, and sometimes a minority, of voters. And they necessarily mix with the influence of other processes, and this can produce very different results in each individual.
So it is very difficult to make predictions. However, recent developments in the economy and its influence on the personal circumstances of individuals can reveal elements that may indicate voter opinion. Here are some of them:
1. The dire predictions that the right-wing opposition had been making since the summer until a few months ago have been shown to be completely unfounded in the eyes of the entire world and in the credibility of the leaders of the PP, especially Alberto Núñez. Feijóo, it is severely damaged. It is clear that this is not going to lead to a vote change for the most loyal voters of the PP, but it may raise some doubts among the people who are likely to vote for the party.
2. Good economic data should improve the image of the government and its leader and above all their credibility. This is no small matter, at least among potential left-wing voters, given the mobilization and the many skeptics that have been growing in the sector in recent times. But it cannot be ruled out that a revival of a certain economic optimism may also affect the attitude of groups that are more distant from the government’s will.
3. The evolution of employment may throw off the deep pessimism that dominated most recently among job seekers. Because April’s data shows that the hotel and restaurant sector is not the only place where employment was created at Easter, as usual. Now the idea that the work has begun is beginning to be noticed.
4. The consumer happiness of the last long weekend and holy week, all the television channels showing us advertising nausea in recent days inevitably reveals a positive attitude towards what is happening, which also benefits the government to a certain extent. Some polls suggest that more than 50% of Spaniards travel on those dates. However, this massive expenditure on hotels, restaurants and tickets is compatible with greater restraint in other areas. Because the data on the evolution of GDP in the first quarter of the year indicate that the global household consumption is decreasing.
6. The reason for this reduction in expenditure is the increase in prices, especially important in food, but it is more or less evident in all sectors and in the purchase of houses. This element has a clear influence on political attitudes. Rising prices are one of governments’ worst enemies, and there is no sign that this phenomenon will register significant changes in the coming quarters, although the dimensions of inflation can be expected to gradually ease. However, it is a fact that the Spanish price index is one of the lowest in Europe, and no matter how much the government corripeos proclaim it, public opinion does not have a big impact on the negative attitude.
7. How the terrible drought experienced by large parts of Spain will affect voter attitudes is not easy to predict. Obviously, this factor currently determines the general attitude of rural people and, above all, farmers and ranchers with significant weight globally and can determine the fate of many town halls, regions and seats in Las Cuts. . However, this does not favor the government and leaves room for the opposition to take action. And forecasters don’t think the situation will change significantly until late summer.
To the list of potential influences of economic factors on political perspectives can be added the fate of that 20 or 25% of the population, some believe up to 30 are having a very bad time. Many experts believe that this influence is minimal, since the majority of this group traditionally do not vote, and a large portion of other opinions, even if sympathetic to the plight, are not inclined to change their vote for that reason. .
In short, the economy may be a major factor in the outcome of an election. In municipal and regional elections, above all, in general elections. But of course it will not be decisive. There the decisive figure of the leaders is going to take the cake. And Sánchez is far better than Núñez Feijóo in this episode.