As Gordon Brown wakes up this morning in Downing Street he can be forgiven for wishing instead of being born a dour Scot he had come in to the world 1,000 miles south as a dark brooding Spaniard. He does both looks very well.
Both Britain and Spain are led by socialist governments and both have been battered by the economic crisis. True Spain hasn’t seen the collapse of its banking sector, indeed Banco Santander has ridden to the rescue of several British financial institutions, but it has seen record unemployment.
The marked difference is that whilst Gordon Brown has lagged badly in the opinion polls in the UK since well before the financial meltdown his counterpart in Spain, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has stayed ahead of the game and it is only now that the opposition Partido Popular has nudged ahead.
I say nudged because according to the findings of an opinion poll published by El País on Sunday if a general election were held now the Partido Popular would triumph. Perhaps triumph is too strong a word –scrape home more like.
The PP has a 1.2 per cent lead over the governing PSOE. The poll by Metroscopia puts the PP on 40.8 per cent and the socialist government on 39.6. Within the margins of such things that’s neck and neck.
The results do show worrying signs for both the premier and leader of the opposition. Whilst 49 per cent do not approve of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s management of the country 60 per cent give the PP leader Mariano Rajoy the thumbs down for his handling of his party and his opposition post.
Indeed the PP has been riddled with division, is embroiled in scandal and yes it is led by Pappa Smurf. Given Rajoy’s poor standing with the public one has to ask - if the party had a more effective leader would it be faring better in the polls?
By the by of those questioned 81 per cent perceived the economic crisis as being bad or very bad – but only 19 per cent said the situation in their family was bad or very bad.
The June Euro elections could well cast the dye for both Brown and Rajoy.