President scores relatively well at halfway point

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President scores relatively well at halfway point

Public support for President Lee Myung-bak stood at 44.9 percent for the first half of his term, a JoongAng Ilbo survey showed yesterday.

The JoongAng Ilbo survey tea conducted a poll via telephone of 1,000 people across the country Sunday and Monday.

The rate is significantly higher compared with the rates for the three previous presidents.

Kim Young-sam, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun all hit the low 30 percents at the same point in their terms. The second half of Lee’s term starts today.

Public opinion on his policies varied, the survey showed.

For instance, 49.8 percent of the respondents said they can relate to policies focused on the low-income class, which Lee plans to pursue in the second half of his term, as opposed to 48.6 percent who said they can’t.

But on a proposal of tax to fund unification costs that Lee made during a recent speech, 58.7 percent expressed opposition compared with 39.2 percent who supported it.

Kim Ji-yeon, a senior executive for Millward Brown Media Research, a major local research agency, said the overall rate for Lee is fairly high for a reason.

“Compared with the previous presidents, who had their public support moved sharply after certain behaviors and remarks, [Lee] appears not to have made notable mistakes,” said Kim. “Trying to put a distance between himself and politically sensitive issues also contributed.”

Some attributed Lee’s relatively good rating to his thin-but-widespread supporters’ group.

“The supporters’ group for him is not concentrate in a particular geographic region, so although the loyalty to him is relatively low, he can maintain a public support rate,” said Kang Won-taek, a Seoul National University professor.

Kang said the absence of powerful rivals in the opposition was another reason why the president’s public support turned out to be as high as it was.

Meanwhile, Park Geun-hye, former chair of the governing Grand National Party and daughter of the late former President Park Chung Hee, recorded the highest support rating, with 29.5 percent, among those considered presidential candidates.

Rhyu Si-min, a lawmaker from the People’s Participation Party and an advisor of the late former President Roh Moo-hyun, came in second at 8.6 percent. Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon was at 6.6 percent.


By Shin Chang-woon [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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