Months of gridlock take heavy toll on politicians’ approval ratings

Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera is alone among the four main candidates to get the thumbs up from voters

Ciudadanos president Albert Rivera in Valencia.
Ciudadanos president Albert Rivera in Valencia.Biel Aliño (EFE)

Almost six months of political gridlock have taken their toll on the popularity of the leaders of Spain’s main parties. A new poll commissioned by EL PAÍS shows that only one out of the four main party chiefs gets anything resembling a passing grade, while the others receive more negative than positive reviews from voters.

Albert Rivera, the 36-year-old leader of Ciudadanos – one of two new parties to emerge out of Spain’s post-crisis scenario – attracted as much approval as disapproval, according to the survey from polling firm Metroscopia. After coming in fourth at the inconclusive general election of December 20 with 40 seats in parliament, the small liberal party is set to repeat its performance at the June 26 vote.

Both Podemos and PP voters are almost equally unhappy about Socialist chief Pedro Sánchez

Meanwhile, Mariano Rajoy of the Popular Party (PP) and Pablo Iglesias of Podemos may be poles apart ideologically, but Spanish voters reject them in equal measure. The latest polling data shows the anti-austerity leader has a negative approval rating of -45, below the conservative candidate, who gets -40 after being Spain’s most impopular politician for months.

Metroscopia's score rating is measured by calculating the difference between the percentages of voters who approve and those who disapprove of the main parties’ leaders. 

[The polarizing strategies employed by both men have resulted in across-the-board rejection of Rajoy by Podemos voters, and unanimous opposition to Iglesias among PP supporters. This in turn has brought down their average approval rates.

But while Rajoy gets a high approval rate of 79 among his own voters, Iglesias only receives a 57 from his own supporter base.

Meanwhile, Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez gets a -37 overall. It’s worth noting that both Podemos and PP voters are almost equally unhappy about him (-68 and -67, respectively). Socialist voters return the favor by giving Iglesias a -63 and Rajoy a -86.

Yet the Socialist Party, which stands to be bumped down from second to third place in the upcoming elections, will likely be faced with the prospect of reaching governing deals with either the PP in a grand coalition, or with Unidos Podemos in a leftist alliance.

Only Rivera is seen positively, not just among his own voters (72) but also among supporters of the PP (15) and the Socialists (15). But Podemos followers gave him a -57.

English version by Susana Urra.

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