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Wake-up call for ruling party with latest approval ratings flip

Top officials of the Democratic Party of Korea are in a meeting Friday morning at the National Assembly in Yeouido, western Seoul. The ruling party is under emergency after a survey found the Democratic Party behind the conservative opposition United Future Party in approval rating for the first time in almost three years. (Yonhap)
Top officials of the Democratic Party of Korea are in a meeting Friday morning at the National Assembly in Yeouido, western Seoul. The ruling party is under emergency after a survey found the Democratic Party behind the conservative opposition United Future Party in approval rating for the first time in almost three years. (Yonhap)
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea has entered an emergency phase as its approval rating fell behind that of the conservative opposition United Future Party -- for the first time in almost three years -- a survey revealed Thursday.

The Realmeter survey found the ruling party’s support rating reach 33.4 percent, down 1.7 percentage points from a week earlier, while the United Future Party gained 1.9 percentage points to 36.5 percent.

It is the first time the main opposition party has surpassed the ruling party in approval rating since October 2016. Since the outbreak of the scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye, the conservative party has struggled to gain an edge in terms of public approval.

The approval rating flip-flop has seemed to awaken the ruling party and its core members, with some calling for additional reform measures to break clear of the situation.

According to the ruling party spokesperson Heo Yun-jung, Democratic Party chief Lee Hae-chan asked high-rank party officials to seriously interpret the latest approval ratings in a meeting Friday morning.

“When people give high approvals, they are asking for the same level of responsibility,” Lee was quoted as saying. “We need to strictly respond to this situation to meet people’s expectations.”

Rep. Seol Hoon, a member of the Democratic Party’s Supreme Council, said in a radio interview that the party should fully engage in recovering the damages from the latest torrential rains and focus on saving the troubled economy to win back support.

Some members also argued that the party should focus on continuing its push for controlling real estate prices and unfolding welfare policies toward people in vulnerable positions. Many of them agree that the party should focus on its current agenda, which would later win support and be reflected in further approval ratings.

“The time has come for the Democratic Party to wake up,” said Kim Boo-kyum, a former four-term lawmaker of the Democratic Party who is now in the party leadership race, in a Facebook post Friday.

“We need to show people that the party moves wholeheartedly focused on people’s lives and can show leadership with real estate measures, economic policies and welfare policies for the socially vulnerable.”

Upon results of the latest survey, United Future Party said it will not be swayed by individual survey results and will continue its work as the main opposition party.

“As you probably saw from the Realmeter survey, the media said that we ‘crossed’ in four years. We reversed the game, but I believe that’s not what has happened,” said United Future Party Secretary-General Kim Seon-dong.

“Our efforts to change has just started gaining trust with the people.”

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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