The CIS barometer for September has laid the foundations for the beginning of the political course: a slight rise in the PSOE and United We Can, a fall in the PP, Vox remains and Ciudadanos rebounds. But in the face of the electoral fight that is fought every month in the installments of the Sociological Research Center and that makes the headlines, there is an underground one that takes place on page 42 of the study. Pedro Sánchez and Yolanda Díaz, leaders of the two parties that make up the coalition, partners in the Government, compete to be the most valued politicians in a struggle that is currently being settled by a single tenth of a distance.
It was until not long ago a competition in which Pedro Sánchez had no rivals. The question to the citizens about what assessment they give to the main politicians – which translates into a note to use for each one – was a victory assured month after month for the Prime Minister. At times it even passed, something very unusual in this question from the CIS, a historical one of its barometers.
The Prime Minister, however, began to show wear and tear as the months of the pandemic passed. The low score of the rest of the leaders – none exceeded 4 – allowed him to stay in first position until the delivery of the barometer in June 2021. The poor results of the PSOE in the Madrid elections and the departure of Pablo Iglesias, who left Yolanda Díaz as leader of United We Can, caused a change in the ranking. In his first barometer, Díaz surpassed Sánchez: 4.6 compared to 4.2.
That delivery of the survey picked up the maximum point of attrition of the PSOE. The Socialists practically tied with the PP in direct voting intention, and in the estimate –the projection made by crossing other sociological variables–, the PSOE fell to a minimum and was forced to look askance at Pablo Casado. The popular ones had managed to reduce the fork to only 3.5 points compared to the loose distance that had been maintained for months.
The PSOE data emerged from the 4M debacle, when they lost the first position of the opposition to Isabel Díaz Ayuso in favor of Más Madrid. But they were also a reflection of the wear and tear of the management of the pandemic, which although it took time to manifest itself in the polls, became evident in the barometers, especially from September 2020. The controversy of the pardons to the prisoners of the procés, sustained for weeks, and the crisis with Morocco led the Socialists to their worst forecasts and Sánchez to his worst assessment.
Meanwhile, in the other party of the coalition there was a relief pushed by the results of Madrid. Pablo Iglesias, who had left the vice presidency of the Government to fight against Ayuso, resigned after the poor results of Podemos. His role within the Government was assumed by Díaz, since then leader of United We Can within the coalition and appointed to take the witness of Iglesias as a candidate in the next elections.
This is how the June delivery arrived, the first to ask citizens about the assessment of Díaz as one of the six most important political leaders in the country. And that’s when there is a surprise that was not really such: Díaz had already come from being one of the most valued ministers of the Government. In the specific studies in which the CIS asked for the note of the members of the Executive, Díaz always came out well.
As can be seen in the graph, when people start asking about her in June, she has a good assessment of her CIS as a minister.
In addition, Díaz has been placed in a fight that Iglesias had not been able to fight until now. The former vice president of the Government was one of the political leaders with the worst grade, partly burdened by the poor assessment that PSOE voters had of the leader of Podemos, and during the last year had not exceeded 3.3 grade, even reaching to sink to 2.9. Below him in valuation during that time was only the leader of Vox, Santiago Abascal.
In Moncloa they are aware that for now Sánchez loses the valuation battle against Díaz, but they are not alarmed either because at the same time they know that it is important that United We can be strong, because without them they will not be able to repeat in the government. And at the moment there is no great concern that it could subtract votes from the PSOE. The argument, for now, fits with the metroscopic photography: Díaz gains in popularity, but Sánchez borders on the approval in the management of the coronavirus and doubles the vice president in the question of who the interviewees want to preside over the Government right now. In addition, the PSOE has risen in the barometer, both in estimation of vote and in valuation of its leader.
Sánchez was already aware of the wear and tear of his government before the summer. The radical remodeling of his cabinet on July 10 was due to that diagnosis. On his return from vacation, he began a tour of some autonomous communities and now he is trying to tackle the crisis of the rise in electricity, one of the problems that can most wear him and the Executive.
The CIS data suggests that part of that strategy is working. The PSOE once again touched 30% after rising one point from the last barometer and Sánchez traced his popularity a few tenths. He has also managed to open a gap again with the PP, which faces a new political course with a fall of three points and immersed in internal troubles over the leadership of the party in Madrid.
Díaz, popularity without taking the leap
Meanwhile, Díaz continues to set his own profile within the Government with a different tone than his predecessor. “I am going to build bridges, the politics of noise and walls does not lead to anything,” she said in an interview with elDiario.es, just as she began her career as vice president. Since then she has tried to maintain tension with the coalition partner in that constant balance maintained by the two parties.
The also Minister of Labor was already struggling in negotiations with the socialist party in aspects such as the increase in the Minimum Interprofessional Salary (SMI), which at the beginning of 2021 had been frozen despite her insistence on raising it. His first messages as leader of the purple part of the coalition were discreet, always in private, but then he has had no problem making his positions explicit when they were contrary to those of the PSOE.
He did so, for example, with the expansion of the Meadow, which he was against and which has finally been annulled. Now with the negotiation of the SMI he has scored his great victory: he has achieved the raise he wanted, of 15 euros, compared to the one defended by Vice President Nadia Calviño (12 euros), and without the need for the employer’s association in the agreement.
These struggles with the socialist ministers, the slow tone that he has imposed on the coalition and some of his interventions in parliament in front of PP leaders, quickly viralized, have allowed Yolanda Díaz to position herself as the most valued policy. It has also slightly boosted United We Can, which according to the latest CIS, has risen to 11.3% of the votes.
Of course, the vice president still does not clear the mystery that weighs on her since the withdrawal of Pablo Iglesias’ policy. She has not yet said if she accepts being the United We Can candidate for the general elections, although she has made it clear that she does not feel comfortable leading that confluence with her current composition and that she prefers to expand that space. In Unidos Podemos, but also in Moncloa, they look at their polls with a magnifying glass.