A honeymoon that didn't last long

2022. 7. 3. 19:50
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If President Yoo Suk-yeol loses public support now, he cannot push the many reforms that he promised in his presidential campaign. The president and PPP wake up before it is too late.

A decline in approval ratings for President Yoon Suk-yeol and his People Power Party (PPP) has continued for three consecutive weeks, according to a recent Gallup Korea poll. In a survey released on Friday, Yoon’s approval rating fell to 43 percent, down 10 percent from early June, while his disapproval rating rose to 42 percent. Yoon’s approval rating is lower than former president Park Geun-hye’s 42 percent in her first three months in office. The approval rating for the PPP, which won a razor-thin victory against the Democratic Party (DP) in the March 9 presidential election, also dropped to 40 percent, down five percent in a month.

Bad external circumstances may have played a part in the simultaneous decline in approval ratings. Koreans are struggling with runaway inflation from the Ukraine war and shortages of supplies from a heated contest for power between the U.S. and China. On top of that, ominous leftovers from the liberal Moon Jae-in administration still affect the Yoon Suk-yeol administration.

But the Yoon administration also should be held accountable for the alarming decline in its approval ratings. At the top of the list of its failings is the conservative president’s unique appointment style based on his connections with the prosecution agency. In the Gallup Korea poll, 18 percent criticized his appointments, while only six percent gave good scores to his leadership.

Opponents are attacking Yoon for his nominations of Park Soon-ae as education minister and Kim Seung-hee as health and welfare minister despite their lack of qualifications. Yoon picked them to help dilute public criticism of his appointment style and how it focuses on graduates of Seoul National University, candidates in their 50s and mostly males. In Kim’s case, in particular, it turned out that the National Election Commission (NEC) had requested the prosecution investigate her alleged violation of the Political Fund Act during her campaign for a legislative seat. The president can appoint them without getting approval from the National Assembly, but he must not.

The PPP is no exception. Due to a never-ending internal battle between Chairman Lee Jun-seok and his opponents in the party over his non-compromising leadership style and recently over an alleged sex scandal, members of the PPP have been engrossed in winning a power struggle over the past month. This is not the kind of behavior that pleases the public.

Yoon has been in office for less than two months. If he loses public support now, he cannot push the many reforms that he promised in his presidential campaign. We hope the president and PPP wake up before it is too late.

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