The number of voters who view themselves as politically liberal has increased significantly after conservative President Park Geun-hye’s scandal was revealed, latest data showed Thursday.
According to an analysis by Herald Business, the sister paper of The Korea Herald, liberals even outnumbered conservatives in Realmeter’s weekly poll for several weeks since the first week of November, shortly after the scandal erupted in late October.
Some 23.28 percent of respondents identified their political inclination as liberal, compared to 21.84 percent who called themselves conservative. The liberal lead had widened to 24.60 versus 19.96 by the second week of this month, the data showed.
As of the third week of this month, the figure is back up for the conservative respondents, who were slightly ahead of the liberal respondents by 0.96 percentage point.
“It is the first time that progressive voters have surpassed conservative minds,” said Kwon Soon-jeong, head of the survey analysis department at Realmeter. “After nine years of a conservative administration, a sense of fatigue seems to be widespread in the public, leading to a change in their ideological dispositions.”
Choi Soon-sil (Yonhap)
The analysis looked into poll findings over 20 weeks starting from the second week of August.
Before the turning point in November, more people identified themselves as conservative voters, at one point, the conservatives held a 6.6 percentage point lead over liberal voters. The difference slowly declined in September when suspicions started to arise over the president and her confidante Choi Soon-sil.
Park is suspected of allowing her close friend Choi to meddle in state affairs and colluding with her to extort funds from conglomerates. Park was impeached by the National Assembly on Dec. 9, and her fate awaits a final decision by the Constitutional Court.
The approval rating of political parties have also witnessed a shakeup. The ruling conservative Saenuri Party, which was once on top of the polls, has ceded its spot to the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea. As of Monday, the Democratic Party’s approval rating stands at 36.1 percent, as compared to the 19.2 percent of respondents who support Saenuri.
Among them are voters who decided not to support any parties. Fifteen to 19 percent of voters said they did not lean toward a particular political party in the third week of October, but the number hit a record high of 24.1 percent in the first week of December.
The shifting public sentiment is changing the nation’s political landscape. Parties are busy trying to win over wavering voters. Some 30 members of the ruling Saenuri Party left the party Tuesday, vowing to create a new conservative party that will seek for more liberal economic policies.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org