Discontent fueled Park to victory, survey finds

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Discontent fueled Park to victory, survey finds

Desire for change in conventional politics and dissatisfaction with President Lee Myung-bak propelled liberal independent Park Won-soon to victory in last week’s Seoul mayoral by-election, a survey showed.

In a nationwide survey of 800 adults on Saturday, 34.1 percent of respondents said Park won because of expectations for a new kind of politics. The second-highest reason was disappointment with President Lee and his administration. Software mogul Ahn Cheol-soo’s endorsement of Park ranked as the third-highest reason with 16.9 percent.

The survey was conducted jointly by the JoongAng Ilbo, YTN and the East Asia Institute and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Lee’s approval ratings continued its decline, according to the poll, for the third consecutive month. After hitting 43.1 percent in July following Korea’s successful bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics, his approval dropped to 39.6 percent, 37.3 percent and 36.3 percent in successive months.

Next year’s presidential race also appears more fluid in the aftermath of last week’s by-elections. When asked who they supported for the Blue House, 31.1 percent of respondents named Representative Park Geun-hye, former chairwoman of the Grand National Party. Ahn was chosen by 25.9 percent of respondents. The 5.2 point margin is a decrease from the 11.9 point advantage Park had in September.

In a head-to-head matchup between Park and Ahn, the daughter of former President Park Chung Hee no longer came out on top. Ahn was backed by 47.7 percent of respondents while Park was backed by 42.6 percent. In a September poll, Park led with 42.7 percent, while Ahn trailed with 42.8 percent.

But the latest survey also found that more than half of respondents did not want Ahn to run for the presidency, with just 28 percent saying he should.

Respondents said that Park Geun-hye would be most likely to win the Blue House next year, with 45.5 percent, almost unchanged from last month’s 45.3 percent.

While the by-election and Park Won-soon’s victory upended the political arena, the public seemed less moved by the outcomes. Asked who they believe won the by-elections, 32.2 percent said it was no one’s victory. Another 20 percent said it was civic society, while 13.5 percent said it was the ruling Grand National Party.

“Because there was intensified negative campaigning, GNP supporters, unaffiliated centrists and young voters were very cynical about the by-elections,” said Jeong Han-wool from the East Asia Institute.

The poll also showed that improved communication with the public was strongly supported by respondents as a way to reform conventional politics. More than 51 percent of respondents said that the strengthening communication with the public was the best solution.

Another 23.7 percent said they wanted new faces in the nation’s politics, and another 9.9 percent proposed reforming the nomination system. Meanwhile, 8.3 percent said lawmakers’ policy making should be improved.

By Shin Chang-woon, Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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