Jesus Rivera

Jesus Rivera is an Ipsos Public Affairs expert working at Ipsos in Spain since 1987.


The Mood of the Spanish

How do Spanish perceive the Indignados initiative? Interview with Jesus Rivera, Head of Ipsos Public Affairs in Spain.

"The 15M movement (M15 stands for 15 of May) was born after the demonstrations organised by the Democracy for Real network on the Sunday preceding the local elections of May 22. Who are the Indignados? Young people who occupied the Puerta del Sol, the main square in central Madrid. The Indignados then swarmed in over 50 cities across the territory. Their major claim is that occidental political leaders have failed to change the rules of finances and markets. "We are not against the system, the system is against us”, was one of their slogans.

"Our analysis at Ipsos is that institutions and political parties have moved away from the streets and from the people. Several factors account for this distance: corrupted and interchangeable parties, difficult representativeness for small parties, incomprehensible governmental decisions, financial entities making indecent benefits with large bonuses paid to their senior executives, higher unemployment rate than in any of our neighbouring countries partly due to the aberrant construction policy in Spain, not to mention other depressing drivers that contributed to this apparition of protests. In this context, the explosion of the 15M movement was the simple way of saying "No".

"What characterized the Indignados was their preparation, both in the form and the content. Their rules? Pacific resistance and no exclusions; discussion, listening, and attention; alcohol prohibited, order, and cleanliness on site. The Indignados leveraged the web and social networks to control their image. More importantly, they invented a new format of assembly, with specific and efficient codes that facilitated the adoption of the proposals and resolutions issued by district commissions. The Indignados never supported any political party nor have they spoken in favour of abstention. Participation in the recent local elections was actually up 4% in Spain and results favoured small parties over large ones.

"The Indignados did cause some indignation among neighbouring shops near the Plaza del Sol that saw their sales drop. They were sometimes perceived with contempt and irony by the population who feel this useless agitation is giving a bad image of the city. However, the behaviour lesson they gave us allows us to qualify the Indignados as free citizens who want to change us, without nomenklatura or technocracy."


On May 22, Spain held local elections which covered 36 municipalities, 3 regions and Provincial Parliaments, with a total sample of 798 polling stations. Ipsos who worked with the Federation of Regional Radio stations and Televisions, conducted exit polls that provided very accurate estimates about public participation, distribution of votes, and seats.

June 16, 2011

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