Youth vote has strong impact on results: Poll

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Youth vote has strong impact on results: Poll

Young voters are having a more significant impact on Korean politics in recent years, a phenomenon reflected by the defeats of the ruling conservative party during the recent major elections, including the Seoul mayor by-election in October.

Ahead of yesterday’s beginning of the official campaign for the April 11 general election, the JoongAng Ilbo conducted a public poll together with the Korean Political Science Association and discovered that Korean voters in their 20-40s indeed believed their voting could have a wide impact on the result of the elections, more than older Korean voters think about themselves.

The survey was conducted of 1,100 adults across the country between March 20 and March 21. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Those surveyed were asked whether they considered their votes as insignificant if many others vote, and 73.9 percent of those in their 20s, 30s and 40s did not agree. It was higher than the 66 percent of those in their 50s or older who did not agree with the question.

In another question, “whether voting is the only way to tell the government what to do,” 31.5 percent of the younger generation did not agree, while only 18 percent of the older generation did not agree.

Ga Sang-joon, a Dankook University professor who led the survey, said the two questions show that the younger generation has higher political efficacy, or the belief that their political activity will have an impact on the government or politics. “The higher the political efficacy people have, the more likely they will involve themselves politically,” Ga said.

The survey also tried to measure the disparity between the younger generation and the older one over several major political issues. About the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, a total of 57.8 percent of those in their 20s, 30s and 40s said a renegotiation is needed, and 13.9 percent said it should be scrapped. In particular, 62.9 percent said renegotiation is needed, and 17.2 percent of those in their 20s said it should be scrapped. Of those 50 or older, 32.1 percent were in favor of renegotiation and 6.1 percent wanted to scrap the deal. The generations came together when it came to the issue of China’s forceful repatriation of North Korean defectors.

More than 82 percent of both the younger generation and older generation said the South Korean government should be more active in the defector issue between North Korea and China. The opposition parties have been battered for being passive on the issue, with critics saying they are afraid of prodding the North. The younger generation was split on the construction of a naval base on Jeju Island, with 42.7 percent of those aged less than 50 supporting it and 41.5 percent opposing it. As for the older generation, 71.4 percent of them were in favor of it.

One of the biggest generational gaps came in the attitude toward the incumbent Lee Myung-bak administration. Only 26.7 percent of those in their 20-40s assessed the job Lee was doing as president as excellent or good, while 72.3 percent said he was doing poor or terribly.

By Shin Yong-ho, Song Bong-keun []
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