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President’s approval rating ticks up past 50%

Dec 07,2018
After 10 straight weeks of decline, President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating finally increased to cross the 50 percent mark, a poll showed on Thursday.

The poll, commissioned by the broadcaster TBS and conducted by Realmeter from Monday to Wednesday, showed that support for the president rose 1.6 percent from last week to reach exactly 50 percent. His disapproval rating also fell 1.7 percent to 44.7 percent.

The uptick, analysts say, indicate that the opposition’s demands to oust Cho Kuk, the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, have not resonated with the public at large. It may even be rallying support for the Moon administration among his core supporters and those who support judicial reform, which is why Moon tapped Cho, a well-known law professor, for the post in the first place.

Other analysts were not so optimistic, saying the short rise is merely an adjustment after Moon’s approval plunged by 16.9 percent within the last two months, largely as a result of a sluggish economy.

The bulk of the uptick was recorded among housewives, whose support for Moon rose 9 percent to 52 percent this week. His approval rating among the self-employed also rose 2.4 percent to reach 40.2 percent. Moon’s approval also jumped 4.5 percent among conservatives to 25.3 percent, as well as among moderates, with whom it rose 2.7 percent to 48 percent.

By contrast, the president’s support dipped slightly among progressives and supporters of the left-leaning Justice Party, which analysts say may be due to the administration and the ruling Democratic Party’s (DP) reluctance to support electoral reform, a platform advocated by many of the country’s progressives.

The left’s growing discontent, however, could be assuaged by a visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to Seoul - a promise he made to Moon at the last inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang in September. Moon reiterated that Kim’s visit was still possible within the year during a trip to New Zealand on Tuesday.

Riding on the president’s coattails, the DP’s approval rating also slightly rose to 38.4 percent from 38 percent. The main opposition Liberty Korea Party’s approval, which reached its highest point last week since Oct. 2016, once again fell 2 percent to 24.4 percent.

But week-to-week poll numbers may not be the opposition’s biggest concern. Another Realmeter poll released on Tuesday showed that Lee Nak-yon, the incumbent prime minister, is currently the leading contender to succeed Moon as president in 2022 among a selection of 12 potential candidates. With support for him at 15.1 percent, Lee - a former DP governor - beat out former Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, the conservatives’ favorite by a large margin, who received 12.9 percent. Trailing behind the two in third and fourth place were Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon at 8.7 percent and Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung, at 7.0 percent - both of who are DP politicians.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]