Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez's Zapatero popularity has hit its lowest level as unemployment and defaults soar during an economic crisis he long said would never happen, a poll published on Monday showed.
Support for Zapatero has fallen to 41 percent, down 10 percentage points from a previous survey in May, and down from 57 percent in March when he was reelected to a second term, according to the IPSOS poll published in Spain's Expansion newspaper.
The good news for Zapatero was that support for conservative opposition Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy also fell to its lowest level -- 28 percent after brutal PP infighting in the wake of its election defeat.
Up until two weeks ago, Zapatero dismissed the possibility of an economic crisis and accused the Popular Party of being unpatriotic when they suggested such a risk in the run up to the March 8 vote.
The prime minister finally used the word "crisis" on July 8 as more and more data showed Spain was being pummelled by the collapse of its housing boom, the global credit crunch and soaring fuel prices.
Economy Minister Pedro Solbes last week said Spain faced the most complex crisis in its history after over half a dozen property and construction firms collapsed.
Spain's debt default rate has doubled to 1.5 percent in the past 12 months and analysts see it reaching 4 percent by late 2009 after the heaviest period of borrowing in the country's history.
Unemployment is thought to have reached 10 percent in the second quarter, according to a Reuters poll, and some analysts see it hitting 15 percent by late next year.
The July 1-13 IPSOS poll, which surveyed 1,000 people across Spain over the age of 18, found Zapatero retained the support of 74 percent of people who voted for his ruling Socialist party.
Rajoy, by comparison, had only 47 percent support among PP voters.
The newspaper did not cite the poll's margin of error
Last Mod: 21 Temmuz 2008, 15:28