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Approval rating gap of political rivals narrows

May 10,2019
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Souvenirs and photos commemorating the second anniversary of the Moon Jae-in government are displayed in the office of the ruling Democratic Party’s chairman in the National Assembly on Thursday. [NEWS1]
The approval rating gap between the ruling party of President Moon Jae-in and the main conservative opposition party fell within the margin of error, a latest poll showed Thursday.

As Moon enters his third year in office, his ruling Democratic Party (DP) scored 36.5 percent in a poll conducted by Realmeter this week, dropping by 3.7 percentage-points from the previous week.

The largest opposition party, the conservative Liberty Korea Party (LKP), scored 34.8 percent, up by 1.8 percentage-points from the previous week.

The LKP’s rating was the highest since President Park Geun-hye was impeached in December 2016.

The 1.6-percentage-point gap between the approval ratings of the two largest parties was within the margin of error. Realmeter said the survey, which polled 1,008 voters nationwide on Wednesday and Thursday, had a 95-percent confidence level and plus or minus 3.1-percentage-point margin of error.

According to the poll, Moon’s approval rating was 47.3 percent, down 1.8 percentage-points from the previous week. The poll showed that 48.6 percent gave negative evaluations to his performance this week, up by 2.6 percentage-points. The 1.3-percentage-point gap was within the margin of error.

The survey was released on the eve of Moon’s inauguration anniversary. Moon decisively won a presidential election on May 9, 2017, following the impeachment and removal of his predecessor, Park, and was sworn into office the next day with no transition period.

Moon was scheduled to discuss his two years in office in a special interview with KBS Thursday night. The 80-minute live interview, which will begin at 8:30 p.m., is the first in-depth interview with the Korean media since Moon took office.

Since he began his term in May 2017, Moon has held only three press conferences. The first one marked the 100th day after his inauguration and the other two were on New Year’s Day last year and this year. According to presidential aides, Moon decided to have an in-depth interview with the Korean media after an interview with Fox News during his visit to New York last September.

Although his approval rating is down from its 84.1percent peak in the fourth week of May 2017, Moon’s latest figure is still higher than his two conservative predecessors. When Park completed her second year, her approval rating was 35.3 percent and disapproval rating was 57.6 percent.

Lee Myung-bak completed his first two presidential years with a 44-percent approval rating and a 45-percent disapproval rating.

Moon’s lowest approval rating was in the third week of February, when he scored 44.9 percent.

Realmeter said Moon’s approval rating this week mainly fell in Seoul, Gwangju, Jeolla Provinces, Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province. It said the president also received increasingly negative evaluations from voters in their 20s and 30s, and those who identify themselves as moderates and liberals.

The polling company said that North Korea’s launch of short-range projectiles on Saturday hurt Moon’s approval rating.

A separate but related poll also showed that the public was largely disappointed with Moon’s economic policy over the past two years. According to the survey, 57.5 percent gave negative evaluations to his economic policy, while 36.8 percent gave positive evaluations.

The poll was conducted on Wednesday. It had a 95-percent confidence level and plus or minus 4.4-percentage-points margin of error.

Among the supporters of the (LKP), 90 percent gave negative evaluations to Moon’s economic policy.

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