27th edition of the BRIE (June 2011)

27th edition of the BRIE (June 2011)

Press Summary

Technical Data

  • Universe: general Spanish population, aged 18 and over.
  • Sample size: N =1,100 interviewees.
  • Interview methodology used: telephone (interviewee called at home).
  • Sample size: stratified, directly proportionate to the distribution of the national population, with proportionate quotas according to age and gender.
  • Sample error: ±3.0 for global data (1,100n); ±4.0 for subsamples (5500n) (*), p = q = 0.5 and a confidence interval of 95.5.
  • Survey period: from 24 May to 3 June 2011.
  • Field work: Gabinete de Análisis Demoscópico (GAD).


The German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s popularity has declined significantly since the BRIE-26 survey was carried out in February 2011. In the past few months, the grade that Spaniards give Merkel has gone down by nearly one point: from 6.7 to 6, so no longer good, but rather just a pass. Certainly, the most important factor is the E. coli crisis blamed initially on Spanish cucumbers, since the approval rating of other European leaders has not changed. Hence, austerity plans are probably not the cause of the German leader’s decline.

Graph 1. Evolution of approval rating of European leaders February-June 2011

  • As for whether to modify the Schengen Treaty to restore border controls between member states, one of every two Spaniards back new restrictions. But those who disagree with this trimming of freedoms do not lag far behind and account for 30% of the population. So it can be said that the measure has support, although not from a majority of the people.

Table 1. Some European countries argue that border controls between countries of the EU should be restored; what is your opinion?

(%)Very much
in favour
in favour
Nether in favour
nor against
Very much
Restoring border controls21.
  • On this issue, there are major differences between left- and right-leaning Spaniards. Among the former, support for the restrictions is 50%, while the proportion rises to 65% among the latter.
  • While in earlier Barometers Spanish public opinion backed helping Greece, today it is completely divided on the issue. A total of 41% favour helping Greece, while 44% are against. Unlike other European issues, often dominated by indifference or lack of awareness, the vast majority of those questioned expressed an opinion; only 15% did not.

Table 2. Given the difficulties that the Greek economy is facing, would you be in favour or against providing another bailout like the one provided last year?

(%)In favourAgainstIndifferentDK/DA
Another bailout41.
  • One of the decisive variables determining one’s attitude towards a Greek bailout appears to be political ideology. While among left-leaning Spaniards half approve such a measure, among conservatives it is only one of every three. So the result is 50% to 30%.


  • Political ideology again shapes opinions on another controversial issue: the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
  • A significant majority of more than half –56% to be exact– have a positive opinion of the killing of Bin Laden, a large proportion that compares to just 20% who disapprove of the US military raid in which he was killed.

Table 3. What is your opinion of the killing of Bin Laden by the US military in Pakistan?

(%)Very goodGoodNeither good
nor bad
BadVery badDK//DA
Killing Bin Laden21.633.714.413.98.67.7
  • However, while among left-leaning Spaniards 50% of those interviewed approve of the raid, there is almost unanimous support on the right of the political spectrum (80%).


  • In all public opinion polls on this issue in Spain, public opinion, as in many other countries, rejects nuclear energy. But not by a crushing majority. One of every two Spaniards is against it, and one of every three is in favour. Again, the score is 50% to 30%. So there is a 20 percentage point difference between the two sides.
  • To this must be added the fact that 13% say they are indifferent. It depends how the data are interpreted, ie, whether the glass is seen to be half-empty or half-full. If the 13% were to be added to the defenders of nuclear energy, Spanish public opinion would be practically evenly divided, with 50% against and 43% in favour, to one extent or another. The 50% against is certainly irrefutable, but adding up the defenders and the undecided does point to a different scenario.

Table 4. Opinion regarding nuclear energy

(%)Very much
in favour
in favour
Neither for
nor against
Very much
Nuclear energy7.323.012.418.336.42.6
  • But most Spaniards, in this case one out of every two, feel that the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan has not changed their opinion on nuclear energy, as opposed to 36% who say that it has.

Table 5. Have the earthquake and nuclear accident in Fukushima changed your opinion on nuclear energy?

(%)Very much soRather a lotA littleNot at allDK/DA
Changed opinion on nuclear energy12.


  • Gaddafi is the worst-rated international leader at 1.4, a score that is a sixth of that of Obama, who has the highest approval rating.

Table 6. Ratings of public figures, on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 = very bad; 10 = very good)

 RatingDon’t know themNo rating
David Cameron5.511.013.2
Nicolas Sarkozy5.22.45.5
Barack Obama6.70.95.3
Moammar el Gadhafi1.44.06.8
Silvio Berlusconi2,42,95,9
Angela Merkel6.07.77.0
José Manuel Durao Barroso5.320.511.4
Herman Van Rompuy5.038.415.1
Catherine Ashton5.137.314.1
Dominique Strauss-Kahn2.722.510.5
  • With regard to the war in Libya between Gaddafi and rebel forces, despite the currently complex situation and the pessimism that reigns in some circles because of the stalemate in the war, most Spaniards are still optimistic. Two of every three, or 59%, think that the rebels will prevail, compared to only 13% who think victory might go to Gaddafi, a man who, as shown above in the analysis of different international leaders’ approval ratings, is not at all popular in Spain.

Table 7. Who do you think will win in Libya?

(%)GaddafiRebel forcesDK/DA
Who’ll win?13.258.728.1
  • A total of 46% of Spaniards back the presence of Spanish troops in Libya, compared with 40% who criticise it. Therefore, there is sufficient, but not majority, support.

Table 8. Assessment of the presence of Spanish troops in…?

Very positivePositiveIndifferentNegativeVery negativeDK/DA
Indian Ocean13.050.18.621.42.74.1
  • Military personnel, with a score of 6.7, and aid workers, with 7.2, are the professions with the highest approval rating among Spaniards.


  • Politicians are at the opposite end of the ratings. With a score of 3.5 they receive half that of the military and aid workers, and are the only profession to fail the test among Spaniards. In light of these results, it is no surprise that the average Spaniard sympathises with some of the anti-political slogans of the 15-M protest movement in Spain.

Table 9. On a scale of 0 to 10, what score the following professions merit…?

Aid workers7.22.9
Showbiz people5.93.3
  • Although the Elcano Royal Institute barometer did not survey people about the 15-M movement, other polls confirm that Spanish public opinion sympathises with the initiative, and that the support is similar to that expressed for the uprisings in Arab countries.
  • However, any similarities between the Arab Spring and the Spanish Spring stop there. The results of the BRIE indicate that for a significant majority of Spaniards –65%– there is no similarity between the uprisings by young people in Arab countries and that of Spaniards who demonstrated for weeks in the 15-M movement. Only one of every four Spaniards, or 27%, sees a similarity between the two.

Table 10. ¿Is there any similarity between the uprisings by young people in Arab countries and the protests by Spaniards that started on 15M?

Any similarity26.665.38.0


  • Looking specifically at perceptions of changes in the Arab world, comparing the results of this wave of the BRIE with those of the one carried out in February of this year it can be concluded that the belief that change can involve conflict has risen by more than 10 points. The conflict can be either internal, in the form of civil war, or external, such as war with neighbouring countries.
  • Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that now fewer Spaniards see light at the end of the tunnel. There has been a 15-point drop in the percentage that feels it likely that the result of the revolts will be these countries transforming into democracies. Besides quantitatively, the decline is also relevant from a qualitative point of view, since expectations of democracy drop from 50 to 35%.
  • On the positive side, it should be highlighted that now there is no greater fear of Islamic militants coming to power, which was probably very high before.

Graph 2. Probability of certain processes or results (% of ‘highly likely and ‘quite likely’)

  • Going deeper on this last issue, of whether Islamic parties should be barred from taking part in new democracies: 38% support barring radical Islamic parties but 32% are against such a prohibition.
  • As for international support for change, there is somewhat more consensus, since 50% call for greater involvement by the international community. The percentage against is just 20%.

Table 11. Agreement or disagreement with the following statements

Very much agreeAgreeNeither agree nor disagreeDisagreeVery much disagreeDK/DA
Democratization of Arab countries is irreversible; there is no turning back9.935.
Islamic parties should be barred from taking part in new democracies7.929.917.131.41.811.9
European countries should get more involved in the transformation of the Arab world13.537.518.420.41.88.5


  • Moving on to the various institutions entrusted with projecting Spanish culture overseas, all of them get a good score.

Table 12. On a scale of 0 to 10, what score do the following institutions merit?

Overseas Cultural Action5.627.1
Culture Ministry5.33.8
Cervantes Institute6.77.6
Spanish Cinema Academy5.76.9
Royal Language Academy7.03.4
Spanish Radio and Television6.22.8
  • Even so, 57% think that more should be done to promote Spanish culture outside the country, compared with 38% who feel that things are satisfactory as they are.

Table 13. Does Spain do enough to promote its culture overseas?

 Yes, it is doing a good jobNo, it should do moreDK/DA
Does Spain do enough?37.757.44.9

In what branch of culture or the arts has Spain made the largest contribution to the rest of the world? What is the main tool of Spain’s soft power? For Spaniards, in order of importance, these tools of soft Spanish power are:

  • Cinema (25%)
  • Literature (17%)
  • Architecture (11%)
  • Pop music (10%)
  • Art (5%)
  • Dance (5%)
  • ‘Serious’ music (1%)

Table 14. In what branch of the arts would you say Spain is contributing most to today’s culture at the global level?

ArtPop Music‘Serious’ MusicArchitectureLiteratureCineDanceOthersAllNoneDK/DA
  • In summary, as Spain prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics, the World Expo in Seville and Madrid’s being named a European cultural capital, 90% of Spaniards say these events were good or very good for Spain’s image abroad.

Table 15. Next year marks the 20th anniversary of 1992 (EXPO in Seville and the Barcelona Olympics). How would you describe them as having been for Spain’s image overseas?

Very goodGoodNeither good nor badBadVery badDK/DA