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Approval ratings drop due to poor governance

Posted August. 15, 2020 07:34,   

Updated August. 15, 2020 07:35


The South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling Democratic Party of Korea are currently faced with public disappointment and dissatisfaction with their poor governance despite their landslide victory on the April 15 general elections with their chant for “20 years’ seizure of power” echoed in pride.

Conducted between Aug. 11 and 13, a Gallup Korea survey of 1,001 Korean citizens aged 18 and above (95 -percent confidence level with ± 3.1 percentage points error) announced on Friday that 39 percent of respondents show support of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a drop of 17 percentage points from last week while 53 percent are dissatisfied with the president's competence, 5 percent up from last week. The results demonstrate the lowest approval ratings for President Moon since he took office in May 2017, recording a tie with those during the third week of last October. Gallup Korea explained that the gap in approval ratings for the ruling party and the opposition United Future Party (UFP) is the narrowest ever since the former administration was involved in a political scandal in 2016. At the survey, the ruling party gained approval ratings of 33 percent while the opposition recorded 27 percent.

The survey revealed that 41 percent want a ruling party candidate to win the 2022 presidential election for the continuity of power, four percentage points lower than 45 percent who prefer a candidate from the opposition. It shows that more voters will turn their back on the ruling party in the next election.

The biggest cause for a rapid drop in approval ratings is associated with a series of failed housing market policies. "Housing market policy” was chosen by 35 percent of respondents who gave a bad score to the president as the most critical factor that harmed his reputation. Other reasons include the ruling party-ruled legislative process and sexual scandals of late Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and former Busan Mayor Oh Keo-don.

Nevertheless, the ruling party does not plan any change in its policy directions despite a soaring level of public dismay. Rep. Jin Sung-joon, the head of the ruling party's strategy and planning committee, said to reporters on Friday, "It may be a mistake to think that any twitch or lessening of housing market policy may help recover approval ratings. We do not buy such a misleading idea so it is off the table.”

“We will take it as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and pay more care to current governance issues,” said a high-ranking Cheong Wa Dae official said.

Sang-Jun Han alwaysj@donga.com