Whom Do Koreans Want as Their Next President?

      March 11, 2011 14:12

      Former Grand National Party chairwoman Park Geun-hye has a massive lead over other presidential hopefuls for the next election, who are closely vying for a very distant second place. For the second time since the 2007 presidential election, the Chosun Ilbo and Media Research conducted a survey gauging the preferences of Koreans about their choice for next president. The survey will be conducted quarterly until the next election in 2012.

      ◆ Who Do You Support for President?

      Some 1,000 adults across the country were given a list of 26 politicians and asked which one of them should be the next president.

      Park commanded a stunning 42.1 percent support rating. A distant second was the waspish former health minister Rhyu Si-min with 9 percent, followed by Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon with 6 percent, Democratic Party Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu with 5.7 percent and Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo with 4 percent.

      Eternal hopeful Lee Hoi-chang of the hard-right Liberty Forward Party was next with 3.9 percent, and then came former prime minister Han Myeong-sook with 3.1 percent, ex-unification minister Chung Dong-young with 3.1 percent, former GNP leader Chung Mong-joon with 2.7 percent, South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Doo-kwan with 1.5 percent and GNP lawmaker Na Kyung-won.

      Experts say the key point for Park is whether she can maintain her early lead by strengthening cohesion among her supporters, while the runners-up need to break the 10 percent support level.

      Park's support rating has risen by 7.5 percentage points in just two months compared to 34.6 percent in a Media Research survey on Dec. 30 last year. Kim Ji-yeon of Media Research said the increase was mainly due to a rise in the number of people who back Park among GNP supporters, from 46.4 percent in the December survey to 61.4 percent.

      ◆Does the Candidate Have What it Takes?

      The survey also asked voters whether they feel the candidates have what it takes to be president. When it came to Park, 59.6 percent of the respondents answered yes and 33.8 percent said no. In a Gallup poll in January 2006, ahead of the 17th presidential election, 39.2 percent said yes.

      Seoul Mayor Oh came in second with 25.9 percent, followed by Rhyu with 24 percent, reversing their ranks in support rating.

      Next were Lee Hoi-chang (20.4 percent), Kim Moon-soo (20.2 percent), Sohn Hak-kyu (20.2 percent), Han Myeong-sook (18.7 percent), Chung Mong-joon (16.5 percent), Chung Dong-young (16.4 percent) and Chung Un-chan (10.7 percent).

      Park commanded a majority support base among supporters of both the ruling GNP (78.5 percent) and the main opposition DP (47.9 percent). In contrast, Rhyu and Sohn, the leading candidates in the opposition camp, commanded only 39.6 percent and 39 percent support bases among their own party's supporters.

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