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Presidential election

Main opposition leads ruling party in poll ahead of 2022 election

People Power Party's presidential nominee outstrips Democratic Party's rival outside the margin of error

By Nov 09, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

The ruling Democratic Party's Lee Jae-myung (left), People Power Party's Yoon Seok-youl (right)
The ruling Democratic Party's Lee Jae-myung (left), People Power Party's Yoon Seok-youl (right)

A former top prosecutor, nominated as the South Korean main opposition party's presidential candidate last Friday, has widened his lead over the ruling Democratic Party’s rival, according to a recent poll conducted ahead of the March election next year.

Yoon Seok-youl, who represents the People Power Party (PPP) in the Mar. 9 presidential election, has outstripped the ruling party's contender Lee Jae-myung by eight percentage points, winning the support of 42.3% from the respondents.

His rival Lee received 34.5% in the Nov. 6-7 survey carried out by Ipsos, a polling agency, for The Korea Economic Daily.

The latest poll found that Yoon, a political novice, came ahead of Lee, a lawyer-turned-politician, in the Seoul metropolitan area. He also scored more support than Lee, 56, from those with moderate political orientation and twentysomethings, considered swing voters in the upcoming election.

Yoon, 60, had served as prosecutor-general under President Moon Jae-in between July 2019 and March of this year. Moon's five-year term ends on May 9, 2022.

The former career prosecutor earned a reputation for his role in the investigation that brought down the government of conservative President Park Geun-hye and led to her impeachment and imprisonment in 2017. But he resigned as prosecutor general before the end of his term, after indicting a key presidential aide and ex-justice minister on charges of bribery and document fraud. 

Two other opposition parties' candidates -- Ahn Cheol-soo and Sim Sang-jung -- received 7.4% and 5.4% of the pollees, respectively.

People Power Party's presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl (center)
People Power Party's presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl (center)


Yoon saw his support rate rising by 7-10 percentage points compared to the previous poll, expanding the gap with the ruling party's Lee outside the margin of error of plus and minus 3.1 percentage points. By comparison, Lee's support rate edged up by 3.4% over the same period.

REGION, AGE AND QUALIFICATIONS

By region, Yoon was picked as the most preferred candidate in the Seoul metropolitan area and politically conservative regions of Gyeongsang Province, southeast of Seoul. In North and South Gyeongsang Province, his support rate came to 58.1% and 53.6%, respectively, versus 22.1% and 29.4% for Lee.

By age group, Yoon received overwhelming support of 65.8% from those aged 60 and above. That is far ahead of the 23.7% for Lee, who led Yoon among those aged between 30 and 50 as well as in Jeolla Province, the country's liberal stronghold, where 59% of the respondents threw support behind him in the poll.

In terms of capabilities, Lee led Yoon only in economic leadership in the survey. Some 40% of the respondents chose Lee over Yoon as the most qualified candidate to deal with economic issues, reflecting his pledge to stabilize home prices.

The ruling Democratic Party's presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung 
The ruling Democratic Party's presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung 

The support rates for the two presidential candidates almost matched those for their parties. PPP earned support from 42.1% in the survey, followed by Democratic Party with 34.4%.

Fifty-one percent of the respondents shared the view that the 2022 presidential election should bring regime change, with President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating tumbling to his lowest level, according to other polls. 

Stabilizing housing prices was picked as the top policy priority for the next government, followed by job creation. About 80% of the respondents saw the country's current economy in difficulty, with half of them saying it is in a very difficult situation. 

They cited the candidates' capabilities and verification of their qualification as the key factor that could affect the 2022 presidential election, followed by the ongoing investigation into a real estate corruption scandal. The scandal involves Democratic Party's Lee during his eight years as mayor of Seongnam between 2010 and 2018.

The survey was based on telephone interviews with 1,003 South Korean citizens aged 18 and above across the country. 

Write to Dong-wook Jwa at leftking@hankyung.com

Yeonhee Kim edited this article
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