Post-Iran, president’s approval rating rebounds

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Post-Iran, president’s approval rating rebounds

President Park Geun-hye’s approval rating rebounded last week after a three-week trough following the ruling party’s crushing general election defeat, a recent survey showed Monday.

According to the polling company Realmeter, Park’s approval rating was 35.9 percent in a survey conducted from May 2 to 4. The telephone poll had a 95 percent confidence level and plus or minus 2.2 percentage-point margin of error.

The number was up by 4.9 percent from the previous week. It also marked a rebound since the April 13 general election sent her approval rating to a record low of 29 percent from April 19 to 21.

In the election, Park’s conservative Saenuri Party suffered a humiliating defeat, not only losing its majority in the National Assembly but also being reduced to the second largest party. Afterward, Park’s approval rating plummeted to the lowest in her presidency, which began in Feb. 2013.

“The rosy economic hopes following Park’s visit to Iran contributed to the rebound,” Realmeter said in its analysis. The polling company also said reports about the North Korean Workers’ Party’s Congress in Pyongyang helped restore the president rating.

Despite the rebound, 59.9 percent of respondents said they were negative about Park’s performance. That figure was 4.5 percentage-points lower than the week before.

The Saenuri Party’s approval rating also went up to 30.4 percent, up by 2 percentage points from the previous week. The main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea recorded 27.8 percent, up 0.2 percentage-point from last week. The People’s Party’s rating went down by 3.1 percentage-points, recording 21.8 percent this week.

Realmeter said the Saenuri was above the 30-percent-level for the first time since the general election, largely owing to Park’s visit to Iran. The Minjoo Party restored support in its strongholds of Gwangju and North and South Jeolla provinces, where it had suffered defeats to the People’s Party in the election.

Among possible presidential contenders, Rep. Moon Jae-in, the former chairman of the Minjoo Party who was narrowly defeated by Park in the 2012 presidential race, was the frontrunner. He recorded 27.1 percent support among possible presidential candidates for the 2017 race.

Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, co-founder and head of the People’s Party, was ranked second with 17.2 percent.

Former Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon of the Saenuri Party, despite his failure to make a grand political comeback by winning a seat in the general election, recorded 12.7 percent support, ranking third. Former Saenuri Chairman Kim Moo-sung was ranked fourth with 7.6 percent.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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