Only seven percent of voters believe the main opposition People Power Party won the April 7 mayoral by-elections in Seoul and Busan on its own merit.

The election is so widely seen as purely a slap in the face for the government that it is doubtful whether the PPP can carry any of the momentum into the presidential election next year.

According to a poll of 1,010 people by Embrain, Kstat Research, Korea Research and Hankook Research early this week, 61 percent of Koreans said the PPP swept the Seoul and Busan mayoral by-elections because the ruling Minjoo Party lost their support, while 18 percent attributed the result to the mistakes of the former mayors of the two cities.

In other words, almost 80 percent feel the PPP won because voters wanted to punish the ruling party.

Staff remove election posters in Seoul on April 8. /Yonhap

Only three percent felt the PPP won because of its policies, another three percent because voters supported the individual candidate, and a measly one percent attributed the victory to the main opposition's accomplishments in the National Assembly. Even among PPP supporters, 81 percent admitted that the party won because of the ruling party's mistakes.

Some 43 percent blamed the Minjoo Party's failed real-estate policies for its defeat, followed by its refusal to admit its mistakes (18 percent), railroading through of unpopular policies (15 percent) and lack of remorse over the sexual harassment scandals that ousted the former Seoul and Busan mayors (10 percent).

Some 46 percent said the vote was only a warning to Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling party, but the same proportion said voters have completely turned their backs on President Moon Jae-in and the MP, so it remains to be seen how these ambivalent sentiments play out in the presidential election next year.

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