Political Pendulum Swings Back to Conservatism

      January 03, 2011 10:24

      Koreans are mostly of a conservative political persuasion again after a decade where progressives predominated, a long-term poll suggests.

      The "Korea Barometer Surveys" were conducted jointly by Shin Doh-chull, a political scientist at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Gallup Korea on eight occasions from 1994 to 2010.

      For the surveys, respondents were asked to describe their political and ideological persuasions. A majority of between 55 and 60 percent identified themselves as conservative between 1994 and 1997, the years of the Kim Young-sam administration.

      But after Kim Dae-jung took power in 1998, more people thought of themselves as progressive, with their proportion peaking at 63 percent in 2001. But the ideological pendulum swung back to conservatism in the 2010 survey, with 51.2 percent identifying themselves as conservative.

      Shin said, "The ideological distribution of people is very variable because it's closely related to the ideological slant of the incumbent government as well as the economic situation."

      Satisfaction with Korean democracy peaked at 65.7 percent last year. The rates were 55.4 percent in 1996, 43.5 percent in 1998, 45.4 percent in 1999, 46.8 percent in 2001, and 59.6 percent in 2004.

      But less than half the respondents have been interested in politics since the early 2000s, from 64.3 percent in 1996 and 53.1 percent in 1998 to 41.9 percent in 2001, 42.8 percent in 2006, and 42.7 percent in 2010.

      Last year, the home visit survey of 1,000 adults across the country was conducted in November. The poll has a hefty margin of error of 3.1 percent.

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