Moon Faces Uphill Struggle with Slim Majority

  • By Hwang Dae-jin

    May 10, 2017 13:07

    Moon Jae-in of the Minjoo Party came first in most parts of the country except the traditional conservative strongholds of Daegu and the Gyeongsang provinces, but with just 41.1 percent of the votes he has the slimmest support of any president since 1987.

    Moon outpaced Hong Joon-pyo of the rump-ruling Liberty Korea Party by 5.56 million votes, the largest gap with the runner-up in election history, but the political landscape was very different from previous elections.

    In the last presidential election in 2012 Moon won a stomping 48.02 percent, but that was a race between just two uninspiring establishment candidates, and he had to concede defeat to Park Geun-hye, who garnered 51.55.

    Roh Moon-hyun and Lee Myung-bak both won more than 48 percent because they galvanized voters at the time, even if they let them down later. The last president to get in with roughly 40 percent was Kim Dae-jung in 1997.

    Exit polls showed Moon was narrowly the top choice among voters of all age groups except the over-60s in a lackluster pool of candidates from five parties. Turnout was a respectable 77.2 percent or 32.8 million, falling short of the 80-plus percent many pundits had predicted but ahead of the 75.8 percent in the 2012 election.

    President Moon Jae-in and his wife observe a moment of silence at the National Cemetery in Seoul on Wednesday. /Yonhap

    Moon's slim majority means he must now must focus his efforts on building bridges with rival parties.

    According to exit polls, voter turnout was highest among older voters -- 60-somethings at 84.6 percent, 50-somethings at 79 percent and 70-somethings at 76.1 percent.

    This helps explain the late surge for Hong, the candidate from Park's compromised LKP, who captured 45 to 50 percent in those age groups. But that was still a good 25 points less than the 72.3 percent Park polled among those groups in 2012.

    Turnout among voters in their 20s was unexpectedly low at 72.1 percent and not hugely impressive at 74.8 percent among voters in their 30s, where Hong captured only single-digit support.

    Ahn Cheol-soo of the People's Party and Yoo Seung-min of the splinter conservative Bareun Party both did better in that segment, but no candidate had the power to rally young people around them in huge numbers and effect a landslide.

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