A warning to MoonPresident Moon Jae-in’s approval rating has plunged below 40 percent, the lowest since he came into office in May 2017. When the Cho Kuk scandal broke in October 2019, Moon’s rating plummeted to 41.4 percent. Now it is lower.
In approval ratings for political parties, the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) scored higher than the ruling Democratic Party (DP). Realmeter analyzed that Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae’s reckless attempt to suspend Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl from active duty and prosecutors’ collective resistance to her decision caused the remarkable drop in the ruling party’s approval rating. A majority of people believed the justice minister’s action went too far.
But the ongoing war between the justice minister and the top prosecutor is just the tip of an iceberg. A fundamental reason for the decline of Moon and the DP’s approval ratings was their policy failures in several realms. In another survey, an overwhelming majority of respondents singled out the government’s failed real estate policy as the primary reason for its downfall. As if to rub salt in the wound, policy decision-makers made remarks totally detached from reality one after another. They blamed the former conservative government for its own policy blunders after four years in office. The Moon administration praised itself for the successful management of the economy and a victory in its battle against Covid-19 despite an alarming resurgence of the pandemic. People didn’t like that at all.
Despite the government’s never-ending patting of its own back, its report card does not have good grades. Above all, it failed to create jobs even though that was its top priority. Moon’s declining approval rating bodes ill for his future. If the trend continues through the remainder of his term, it means the people’s trust in the government is running out. The presidential office tends to ignore criticism, saying a final assessment is made after a president steps down. That is true, and this administration will be no exception. But the Moon Blue House must take the worsening public sentiment seriously.
If the economy and people’s livelihoods are not getting better, anything can happen. The government must change the way it has been administering the country. It must first mend its regulation-based real estate policy and devise policies reflecting the market, not its own overbearing wishes.
The government also needs a major reshuffle of the cabinet and presidential aides. If it continues to point a finger at the previous government for its policy mistakes, it can never get the support of the people. Moon’s waning popularity is a warning directly from them.