GNP gloomy about keeping majority

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GNP gloomy about keeping majority

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Grand National Party lawmakers are skeptical that their party will maintain its majority in the National Assembly in next year’s legislative elections, a recent survey of the ruling party legislators showed, as the representatives expressed concern about worsening public sentiment toward the party and the president.

The JoongAng Ilbo conducted a survey of 122 Grand National lawmakers from mid-March till Saturday to obtain their opinions on the next legislative elections and the current political environment.

GNP’s proportional representatives and lawmakers serving leadership positions of the party did not participate in the poll, published in the newspaper’s Monday edition.

According to the poll, 80 of the 122 lawmakers who responded to the survey were pessimistic that the party will keep a majority in the 299-seat National Assembly in the next election, slated to take place in April next year. The average number of the seats that lawmakers believe the GNP will occupy, according to the survey, was 129.

Most of the 99 lawmakers who said they were pessimistic about the Grand National majority after the next election said their assessments were based on the worsened public sentiment. Of the 122 lawmakers polled, 88 said the public sentiment is negative toward the GNP and the Lee Myung-bak administration while 11 said the sentiment is extremely negative.

Of the 99 lawmakers who were concerned about the worsened public sentiment, 62 said inflation is the reason, while 13 said the crisis among the working class was behind the negative sentiment. Another nine said the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak drove the unfavorable sentiment while five pointed to a rise in housing rents.

The lawmakers also showed deep distrust toward the party leadership. Of the 122 lawmakers, only 16 said the leadership was doing a good job.

According to the survey, 58 lawmakers said the public sentiment toward the president is bad, while another five said very bad.

“The lawmakers appeared to be concerned about the worsening economic situation,” said Yoon Jong-bin, political science professor of Myongji University.

“Because the legislative election will take place during the last year of Lee’s presidency, when the approval rating is naturally low, the ruling party lawmakers are probably feeling insecure.”

Members of the Supreme Council, the highest decision-making body of the party, admitted yesterday to the need to win back the public.

“The GNP humbly accepts the opinions conveyed in the survey,” said the ruling party’s chairman, Ahn Sang-soo. “We will do our best to satisfy the public needs.”

The Democratic Party reacted cautiously to the survey outcome. “It’s true that the public sentiment toward the ruling party and the administration is unfavorable, but it does not mean that the DP will automatically win the next elections,” said Representative Jun Byung-hun.

DP lawmakers said it is crucial for the liberal political parties to form an alliance to fight against the GNP, referring to the lesson they had learned from last year’s local elections.

“The more the situation turns unfavorable to the GNP, the more liberal candidates join the race,” said Jun. “The flood of candidates is like a cancer for the liberal political arena.”


By Ser Myo-ja, Shin Yong-ho [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article[중앙일보]
“한나라 내년 총선 때 과반 안 될 것”
한나라 지역구 의원 122명 설문조사 … “현 171석에서 129석으로 여소야대 형성”

한나라당 의원들은 이명박 정부 집권 5년차에 치러지는 내년 4월의 19대 총선에서 한나라당이 국회의 과반 의석(150석)을 확보하는 데 실패해 여소야대(與小野大) 구도가 형성될 것으로 전망했다.

다수의 의원은 19대 총선에서 한나라당이 얻을 의석과 관련해 비관적인 전망을 했다. 응답 의원 122명 중 80명(66%)이 한나라당 의석수가 과반에 못 미칠 걸로 내다봤다. 이들 중 14명은 80~100석, 19명은 101~120석, 23명은 121~130석, 24명은 131~149석 정도를 얻을 것이라고 예상했다. 이들이 예상한 한나라당 의석수의 평균은 129석으로, 2004년 4월 17대 총선에서 한나라당이 얻은 121석과 비슷하다. 당시 한나라당은 선거를 앞두고 노무현 대통령 탄핵안을 국회에서 처리해 역풍을 맞았고, 총선에서 크게 고전했다. 한나라당의 현재 의석은 171석이다.

 내년 총선에서 과반 확보가 어려울 것이라고 내다본 의원들은 정부와 여당에 대한 ‘민심 이반’이 심각하다고 입을 모았다. 응답 의원 122명 중 99명(81%)이 “민심이 나쁜 편”(88명·72%), 또는 “매우 나쁘다”(11명·9%)고 했다. 부산·경남, 대구·경북 출신 의원(50명)들 중에서도 38명(76%)이 민심이 좋지 않다고 답했다.

 민심이 나쁘다고 한 의원 99명의 다수는 민심 악화의 원인으로 ‘물가 상승’(62명·63%)을 꼽았다. 이어 ‘서민 경제 전체가 비상’(13명), ‘구제역 확산’(9명), ‘전·월세 대란’(5명), ‘전반적 국정운영 실패’(4명) 등을 또 다른 이유로 진단했다.


 의원들의 당 지도부에 대한 불신도 컸다. 의원 82명(122명의 67%)은 “지도부가 당 운영을 잘못하고 있는 편”이라고 했고, 16명(13%)은 “매우 잘못하고 있다”고 했다. “잘하고 있는 편”이라고 한 의원은 13명(11%)에 불과했다. 이명박 대통령에 대한 민심도 ‘나쁜 편’(58명·48%), ‘매우 나쁘다’(5명·4%)라고 본 의원이 전체 응답자의 절반을 넘었다.

 개헌에 대해선 ‘필요하다’(99명·81%)고 응답한 의원이 ‘필요하지 않다’(20명·16%)고 한 의원보다 훨씬 많았으나 당장 개헌을 해야 한다고 보는 의원 숫자는 적었다.

 이번 조사와 관련해 윤종빈(정치학) 명지대 교수는 “실제 민심도 조사 결과와 비슷하다고 본다”며 “국민의 체감경기가 나쁜 데다 대통령 지지율이 떨어지는 집권 5년차에 총선이 실시되기 때문에 여당 의원들이 불안해하는 것 같다”고 말했다.

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