Poll finds people want dignity in candidates

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Poll finds people want dignity in candidates

In a recent poll, a significant number of Koreans said a candidate’s dignity will be the biggest factor they consider when casting their votes in the April 13 general election.

The JoongAng Ilbo newspaper and Kyung Hee University polled 3,061 adults and found 28.8 percent of respondents felt regionalism is the biggest problem in modern politics, while 24 percent said post-election flip-flopping is their biggest concern.

Former lawmaker Kim Hong-shin said voters are showing indifference to the election as they expect a volte-face from many politicians after the election.

Respondents ranked the Korean political system and its parties with an overall score of 26.2 points out of 100, while lawmakers were given a score of 20.4 points.

“It’s a natural result,” said Lee Won-jong, former head of the State Affairs Committee at the presidential office, “reflecting the reality of the 19th National Assembly, which fights only for the sake of its own interests.”

For 41.2 percent of respondents, the dignity and ability of candidates is what matters most, outstripping the importance of other factors such as party affiliation (11.6 percent), political experience (2.5 percent) and regional ties (2.2 percent).

Kang Won-taek, political professor at Seoul National University, said voters who are sick of partisan politics in Korea have decided to vote for people rather than parties.

According to the JoongAng Ilbo and Kyung Hee University survey, the top three qualities people want in a candidate are dignity, sympathy and a desire to defend the national interest.

The most highly valued of these, dignity, includes features such as speaking responsibly, displaying tolerance and acknowledging the public’s recent allegations of corruption in the 19th National Assembly.

Respondents also said politicians should prioritize the national interest when there is a conflict between interests of the nation and interest of a particular region.

“Voters are hoping to choose politicians who can provide a vision of the country, overcoming factional strife and populism,” said Jeong Jong-pil, head of the Global Academy for Future Civilizations at Kyung Hee Univiersity.

Finally, respondents said they would like to see candidates who sympathize with the public by reflecting public opinion in policymaking.

Yun Seong-yi, political science professor at Kyung Hee University, said people are attracted to politicians who can cry or be happy with the people, not those who rule by authority.

BY SPECIAL REPORTING TEAM [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]
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