Coronavirus Pessimism Grows in Spain, and Trust in Sanchez’s Leadership Falls

September 3, 2020
Pedro Sanchez
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As a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic sweeps through parts of Europe, the Spanish public is not optimistic. The latest poll conducted in Spain by Redfield & Wilton Strategies finds that 60% of Spanish respondents think the worst is yet to come in Spain with respects to the timeline of the pandemic. Less than a quarter (24%) think the worst is behind Spain. The degree of pessimism is much higher now than in June, when only 39% thought the worst was yet to come, or even compared to July, when 53% thought the worst was yet to come.

Pessimism is pervasive across the political spectrum, but particularly strong among those who voted for right-leaning parties in the November 2019 General Election: 72% of those who voted for the Popular Party (PP) and 76% of those who voted for Vox think the worst of the pandemic is yet to come in Spain. Pessimism, however, is not exclusive to voters of the right-leaning parties: 52% of those who voted for the ruling Socialist Party (PSOE) and 48% of those who voted for its coalition partner Unidas Podemos also think that the worst of the pandemic is yet to come in Spain.

At this stage, 57% of respondents think it is likely there will be another nationwide lockdown. Despite the fact that the Spanish Government has managed to avoid a nationwide second wave of the pandemic through local lockdowns, only a third of Spanish respondents (34%) think it is unlikely that there will be a second national lockdown.

The Spanish public are generally concerned about the current coronavirus situation in the country. Overall, 46% disagree that the coronavirus situation in Spain is relatively under control and that other countries are overreacting by closing their borders to Spain. Only a quarter (25%) agree that the situation is under control.

Indeed, the Spanish public continues to view the pandemic seriously: 57% disagree that the severity of the coronavirus situation in Spain has been exaggerated. On the other hand, just 22% agree that the severity of the situation has been exaggerated.

Despite the widespread pessimism, a clear plurality (42%) also agreed that Spain is reporting a higher number of new cases than other European countries because Spain is testing far more asymptomatic people than other countries, while less than a quarter (23%) disagree.

Thinking about the recent increase in coronavirus cases in Spain, 59% think the public is primarily to blame because it has not followed the social distancing rules. On the other hand, 39% think the Spanish Government is primarily to blame.

Over two thirds (69%) of PSOE voters consider that the public is primarily to blame for the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Interestingly, a majority (53%) of PP voters also blame the public rather than the Government, despite their political loyalties

Although respondents primarily blame the public, a clear majority (62%) consider that the Spanish Government’s actions in response to the coronavirus pandemic have fallen short. Meanwhile, just 24% think the Government’s actions have been adequate. Even among those who voted for the ruling Socialist Party, 46% think the Government’s actions fell short, whereas 45% think they have been adequate (a difference that falls within the margin of error of the poll).

In its overall assessment of how Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has handled the crisis, the Spanish public was very critical: a strong plurality (49%) disapprove of how Sanchez has handled the crisis, compared to 30% who do approve. Sanchez’s approval rating has deteriorated substantially compared to our polling in mid-July, when 37% approved and 43% disapproved of his handling of the crisis, or in mid-June, when 36% approved and 44% disapproved. A possible reason for this decline is the perception that Sanchez’s Government is failing to take responsibility for managing the second wave of the pandemic and is instead making provincial governments responsible for handling it, leaving many local politicians overwhelmed and uncoordinated.

Overall, the Spanish public continues to lose trust in the Government’s ability to steer the country through a second wave of the pandemic and considers a second national lockdown likely. At this stage, a clear plurality of respondents disagree that the current situation is under control. Most respondents from both major parties believe the public, rather than the Government, is at fault for the continued spread of the pandemic, although they also consider that increased testing of asymptomatic people is a factor in the increased number of cases.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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