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Disapproval rating for Park nears 60%

President Park Geun-hye’s disapproval rating hit a new high last week, amid fears that her waning public support could stymie her economic reform plans, a poll showed Monday.

Park’s support rating stood at 34.5 percent, a weekly poll conducted by opinion surveyor Realmeter of 2,500 adults nationwide from Jan. 19 to 23 showed. Her disapproval rating hit 58.3 percent, a rise of 6.4 percent. The 95 percent confidence level was plus or minus 2 percent.

Support ratings for President Park’s governing Saenuri Party stood at 38.6 percent.

The announcement follows a Gallup Korea report last week that showed the president’s approval rating at a record low of 30 percent.

Realmeter’s survey results also showed that 40.3 percent of respondents “highly disapproved” of the president, marking the first time the figure has exceeded 40 percent.

President Park is facing an apparent political crisis according to survey results from the two pollsters this month.

Analysts said Park’s refusal to fire her top aides accused of meddling in state affairs in the so-called Chung Yoon-hoi scandal, and the public uproar over increased taxes were the likely causes.

Park last Friday named Saenuri Rep. Lee Wan-koo, a reputed compromiser who has supporters even in the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, as her new Prime Minister to apparently raise her public ratings. Park is likely to reshuffle her aides in coming weeks.

“Park’s ratings are lower than her party’s. This means she’s not helping her party. It means she’s actually contributing to the party’s unpopularity among voters,” Myongji University professor Chung Jin-min said in a phone interview last week.

If Park’s approval ratings continue to fall, her top initiatives such as reforms to the pension for retired civil servants could be stalled in the National Assembly, as lawmakers looking to run in the 2016 parliamentary election try to distance themselves from the unpopular president’s policies.

By Jeong Hunny (