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Opposition overtakes ruling party in Seoul

Lee Nak-yon, chairman of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, speaks during a meeting of the party's supreme council at Hotel Inter-Burgo EXCO in Daegu, on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Lee Nak-yon, chairman of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, speaks during a meeting of the party's supreme council at Hotel Inter-Burgo EXCO in Daegu, on Wednesday. (Yonhap)


The ruling Democratic Party’s support rating has fallen behind that of the conservative opposition People Power Party in Seoul, where the two parties seek to strengthen their support base ahead of next year’s mayoral by-elections.

According to a survey released by Realmeter on Thursday, the People Power Party’s support came in at 31.4 percent among Seoul residents surveyed, up 1.0 percentage point from the previous week, while that of the ruling party decreased 3.8 percentage points to 30.3 percent.

The poll appears to show Seoul citizens’ discontent over a government announcement this week that it would introduce a tax relief plan for single-home owners and retail stock investors. The capital, a key battleground for the two parties, leaned toward the liberal camp in past elections.

“Seoul has the largest real estate market and is highly sensitive to issues related to tax,” Bae Cheol-ho, a senior researcher at Realmeter, said.

Following a consultation with the ruling party, the government said Tuesday that it would cut the tax rate by 0.05 percentage point for those who own one home with a taxable value of 600 million won ($533,363) or less.

It also said it would not push to redefine a major shareholder of a listed firm in income tax law. This means that the government would continue collecting taxes from retail stock investors who own stocks worth over 1 billion won in a single company, instead of lowering the bar and taxing smaller holdings.

Seoul and Busan are crucial battlegrounds for the rival parties in the next several months as both cities prepare for mayoral by-elections in April next year.

The main opposition party continued to maintain the upper hand in its stronghold of Busan, Ulsan and South Gyeongsang Province, with 32.7 percent. The support rate for the ruling party in those areas stood at 28.0 percent in the same poll.

On a nationwide level, the Democratic Party garnered a higher approval rating with 34.7 percent, down 0.1 percentage point from a week earlier. The support rate for the People Power Party slipped 1.2 percentage points to 27.7 percent.

The public poll was conducted between Monday and Wednesday and involved 1,504 voters nationwide.



By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)
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