Posted : 2017-03-06 16:15
Updated : 2017-03-06 18:58

Moon Jae-in's chances of winning election rising

Opposition Democratic Party of Korea presidential hopefuls hold hands ahead of a primary debate at the OhmyNews building in Seoul, Monday. They are, from left, Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung, former party leader Moon Jae-in, South Chungcheong Governor An Hee-jung and Goyang Mayor Choi Sung. / Yonhap

By Kim Rahn

Top opposition party presidential contender Moon Jae-in is continuing to extend his lead over runners-up in opinion polls.

In the latest poll by Realmeter, released Monday, Moon had support of 36.4 percent for the first week of March, topping the ranking for the ninth consecutive week.

This was the highest support rate for him, up 2.9 percentage points from the previous week. For a single day on March 2, the rate reached 37.7 percent.

Moon's high popularity shows the citizens' desire for a change of government following the corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her confidant Choi Soon-sil.

Reflecting this, Moon pledged to reform government organizations in a primary debate among Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) candidates, Monday, saying, "The authorities, such as Cheong Wa Dae, the prosecution and the National Intelligence Service, have been the main culprits undermining democracy."

His rise is also partially attributable to the falling rate of An Hee-jung, another DPK contender, whose rating dropped by 6.3 percentage points to 12.6 percent.

An's support rate had taken an upturn to over 20 percent and he had been considered as a potential rival to Moon. But his rating began to decline after he made favorable remarks about former President Lee Myung-bak and scandal-ridden President Park, Feb. 19.

An also called for a "grand coalition" to embrace even the ruling Liberty Korea Party (LKP). "We need a grand coalition to produce talks and negotiations, and to eradicate deep-rooted evil through an alliance between the new president and the majority of the National Assembly," he said in the debate.

But this idea drew a backlash from faithful DPK supporters, who believe the LKP is not a partner to work with but the evil to root out for being partially responsible for the presidential corruption scandal.

"Liberal voters who were disappointed by An's remarks and idea of alliance seemed to have turned their support toward Moon," the poll agency said.

It is also advantageous for Moon that there is no strong presidential hopeful from the conservative bloc. Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn is the only potential conservative contender to gain a double-digit support rate of 14.9 percent.

Hwang, who has remained noncommittal about his presidential bid, cited Proverbs in a meeting with Christian groups March 2, saying, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." This has been interpreted as an expression of his presidential ambition, and his support rate increased by 4 percentage points from 10.9 percent.

The poll was conducted on 2,025 adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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