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(LEAD) Opposition party narrows gap with ruling party to below 1 pct point in poll

15:54 August 06, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS analysis, other details throughout)

SEOUL, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's main opposition United Future Party (UFP) posted its highest-ever approval rating this week, narrowing the gap with the ruling party to less than 1 percentage point for the first time, a survey showed Thursday.

The opinion poll conducted by pollster Realmeter also showed an erosion in support of both President Moon Jae-in and the ruling Democratic Party (DP), apparently due to controversial real estate policies and growing tensions with the prosecution leadership.

The poll canvassed 1,510 people aged 18 or older nationwide from Monday to Wednesday.

The UFP's approval rating stood at 34.8 percent, up 3.1 percentage points from last week. It is the highest the party has seen since its foundation in February resulting from a merger of three conservative parties.

The DP's support dropped 2.7 points to 35.6 percent, closing the gap between the two parties to 0.8 point, the smallest since February. The difference is within the margin of error of 2.5 points.

Notably, the UFP outperformed the DP by 37.1 to 34.9 in Seoul, where the liberal ruling party has traditionally made a strong showing in elections.

The survey showed the ruling party also lost support among women and voters in their 30s, while the opposition party gained, especially among women and centrist voters.

Meanwhile, President Moon Jae-in's approval rating slid 1.9 points to 44.5 percent, while his disapproval rating rose 2.2 points to 51.6 percent in the poll commissioned by local radio station TBS.

The main opposition United Future Party rallies against the ruling Democratic Party's unilateral passage of bills at the National Assembly in Seoul on Aug. 4, 2020. (Yonhap)

Realmeter said the results seem to be attributable in part to public discontent with the government's real estate policies.

The majority DP railroaded a series of real estate bills, aimed at increasing taxes for multiple homeowners and better protecting tenants, through the National Assembly this week and last week.

In the midst of partisan bickering, Rep. Yun Hee-suk of the UFP last Thursday garnered public sympathy with her floor speech against the bills on tenants' rights.

The DP's support was also seen as undermined by an escalating conflict between the Moon administration and Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl over a probe into a senior prosecutor close to Yoon on suspicion that he may have colluded with a TV reporter to dig up dirt on a pro-government figure.

In a speech to newly commissioned prosecutors Monday, the chief prosecutor warned of the danger of "dictatorship and totalitarianism disguised under the cloak of democracy."

"The two parties' ratings were affected by sentiment against real estate policies among some people, Rep. Yun Hee-suk's speech at the plenary session and Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl's remark on dictatorship and totalitarianism and the DP's reactions against it," the pollster said.

nyway@yna.co.kr
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