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Yoon’s approval rating on a slippery slope

President-elect’s push for relocating presidential office, conflicts with Moon drag down rating

President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol (Yonhap)
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol (Yonhap)
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s approval ratings have continued to fall since the election, with the figure hitting the lowest for president-elects in recent history.

Yoon’s push for relocation of the presidential office and repeated conflicts with the Moon Jae-in administration seem to have negatively affected public opinion.

The poll results on Monday showed that the negative outlook for Yoon’s government performance outpaced the positive outlook in a week. The same survey showed the positive evaluation of President Moon’s performance had increased.

In the survey by polling agency Realmeter of 2,512 people aged 18 or older nationwide from March 21-25 at the request of Mediaherald, 46 percent of respondents said Yoon would “do well” and 49.6 percent of them said he would “do poorly.”

The positive response to Yoon was 52.7 percent in the second week of March but fell 3.5 percentage points to 49.2 percent in the third week. In the recent survey, the positive response was 3.2 percentage points lower than the previous week to 46 percent.

The negative response rose 4.4 percentage points from 41.2 percent to 45.6 percent in the third week of March, and again rose 4 percentage points to 49.6 percent in the recent survey.

In comparison, former presidents’ approval figures ranged between a high 70 to 80 percent range during the period between the election win to inauguration.

Following the election, Yoon has been at odds with Moon’s administration over multiple issues, including the relocation of Cheong Wa Dae to the Defense Ministry building and the appointment of high-ranking public officials.

A week after the election, he announced he would move Cheong Wa Dae to Yongsan-gu by May 10, saying the president’s will is more important than public polls and having public spats with Moon’s administration, which worried about a “security vacuum.” Yoon’s side also ran up against opposition from Moon over the appointment of high-ranking officials, including the Bank of Korea governor, resulting in the unprecedented cancelation of the first meeting between the president and president-elect.

Park Min-young, who had served as a youth aide to the People Power Party during the election rally, said on Facebook Friday that Yoon’s approval rating had entered “a death cross” even before taking office.

“What is needed for the People Power Party now is awareness,” he said. “What worries me is the lack of communication channels. There would have been no controversy if anyone had played that role effectively.”

When asked about the unusually low ratings of President-elect Yoon, who has not even begun his term, Yoon’s spokesperson Kim Eun-hye said Monday that they would keep the score in mind and “serve the people with a more humble and lower attitude.”

The same poll showed that President Moon’s approval rating was 46.7 percent, up 4 percentage points compared to the previous survey. The negative evaluation fell 3.5 percentage points to 50.7 percent.

The Democratic Party’s approval rating was the highest at 42.7 percent, up 1.4 percentage points from the previous survey. The People Power Party’s rating fell 0.7 percentage point to 40 percent.

As public concern grew over the escalating tensions between Yoon and Moon, the two sides agreed to meet over dinner on Monday evening.

They will meet at Cheong Wa Dae’s Sangchunjae, where state guests are received and unofficial meetings are held, at 6 p.m. Presidential Chief of Staff Yoo Young-min and Yoon’s Chief of Staff Jang Je-won will attend the meeting.

The meeting will be a “candid” conversation without a formal agenda, both sides said earlier.

During the talks, they are expected to talk about a 50 trillion won ($40 billion) supplementary budget for tackling COVID-19, one of Yoon’s key pledges. Yoon is also expected to propose pardoning former President Lee Myung-bak.

Spokesperson Kim said, “The issue of how to make a living for the people and how to protect the people’s safety will come up naturally … A plan to keep the people safe from the ongoing threat from North Korea (will also be discussed).”

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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