After tax hikes, president’s approval ratings fall

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After tax hikes, president’s approval ratings fall

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The approval ratings for President Park Geun-hye dropped in surveys in the aftermath of her administration’s recent hiking of some taxes, like the tax on cigarettes.

In some polls, more people evaluated Park’s performance negatively than positively.

Analysts said the government’s increases of taxes on items popular with the working class and a public perception of the president as an aloof leader contributed to the fall.

According to Gallup Korea’s weekly poll announced on Friday, 44 percent of the respondents positively evaluated Park’s performance while 47 percent evaluated her negatively. In the survey, conducted during the third week of this month, the positive evaluations of Park dropped by 1 percentage point compared to the previous poll conducted during the first week of this month. The negative evaluation of Park went up by 2 percentage points.

It was the first time in seven weeks that more people evaluated Park negatively than positively since the July 30 by-elections.

According to the poll, 20 percent of the people said Park was lacking in her efforts to communicate with the public, while 18 percent said she failed to show satisfactory efforts to settle the aftermath of the Sewol ferry sinking.

The survey showed that the public was particularly dissatisfied with Park’s failed efforts to come through on all of her presidential pledges and her tax reforms and tax hikes.

The poll was conducted Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday on 1,002 adults around the country, using a random dialing system of mobile phones. The poll has a 95 percent confidence level with a plus or minus 3.1 percentage point margin of error.

A ruling party lawmaker agreed.

“Tax hikes always work against the government and the ruling party because the people think they are paying more money from their pockets although they are receiving no additional benefits,” said Representative Kang Seog-hoon of the Saenuri Party. “The situation was aggravated because the increases in tobacco, residential and automobile taxes were announced one after another.”

Kang pointed out that the Park administration’s poor publicity effort worsened the situation.

“Increasing the residential tax did not require revisions of the laws linked to the budget, so the government didn’t have to do it this time,” said Kang. “And the automobile tax hike was also limited. But the government had a poor strategy and failed in its promotion efforts and the people felt that they are paying heavier burdens.”

Other observers said Park’s longstanding problem with communication is another reason behind the falling approval rating. “Recently, the president made some direct comments about the controversy surrounding the scope of investigation for the Sewol ferry accident,” said Kim Hyung-joon, a political science professor at Myongji University. “And that gave an impression to the people that she is coldhearted, not warm-hearted.”

BY LEE KA-YOUNG [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


















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