Three out of four share spirit of Congress protests, says poll

Survey findings counter government’s assertion that protestors are a minority

The September 25 (25-S) protest in front of Congress was just the tip of the iceberg of people’s discontent with the state of affairs in Spain, a recent opinion survey shows.

In contrast with the government’s assertion that angry protestors are a minority compared with the silent majority, a Metroscopia poll for EL PAÍS has found that 77 percent of Spaniards — three out of every four — share the spirit that moved a few thousand protestors to surround the lower house of parliament last month.

Speaking in New York the day after the rally, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy praised “the majority of Spaniards who do not demonstrate, who do not make newspaper headlines and who do not open the newscasts,” in contrast to those taking part in the Congress march and all other public displays of citizen unrest.

Half of respondents said they shared the arguments behind the 25-S protest and the rally itself. A further 27 percent said they agreed with the motives, but not with staging a protest near Congress.

The government of the center-right Popular Party (PP) has tried to compare the 25-S protest with the failed military coup against Congress of February 23, 1981. Yet even though the protestors were making impossible demands — which included calls for the entire government to resign and for procedures for a new Constitution — only 17 percent of respondents said they did not share the protest’s arguments, indicating that citizens feel that the point of the rally was to show anger over the economic and political crisis gripping the country.

Significantly, up to 61 percent of PP voters — six out of every 10 — said they agreed with the demonstration’s motives, which shows that pessimism, disenchantment and unrest have reached even those individuals who voted for Rajoy 11 months ago.

Excessive actions

As for the riot police’s actions on 25-S, 57 percent of respondents considered them excessive, compared with 32 percent who though they were appropriate and five percent who would have liked to have seen tougher measures employed against the demonstrators. But there is a clear divide between PP voters and Socialist voters on this point, as 66 percent of the former feel the police acted adequately, while 80 percent of the latter believe officers used disproportionate force.