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Moon widens gap with An in polls

Feb. 23, 2017 - 17:46 By Jo He-rim
Moon Jae-in, the opposition front-runner in the upcoming presidential race, on Thursday extended his lead in the polls as the support rating for runner-up rival An Hee-jung edged down following a spat over a controversial remark.

According to local pollster Realmeter, Moon of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea garnered 32.4 percent support this week, 13.2 percentage points higher than South Chungcheong Gov. An of the same party, who saw a fall of 1.2 percentage points to record 19.2 percent.
South Chungcheong Gov. An Hee-jung speaks with university students in Busan on Sunday. (Yonhap)

The liberal governor, whose support rate had continued to rise over the past four weeks, recorded a fall for the first time after sparking controversy over his remarks about impeached President Park Geun-hye.

On Sunday, An said Park and former President Lee Myung-bak had the “good will” to properly govern the state, which sparked criticism the liberal centrist candidate was covering for conservative figures.

“I think they (Presidents Park and Lee) tried to govern well for the citizens and those from the lower end of the social ladder. But it just did not work out the way they desired,” An said at a meeting with university students in the southern city of Busan.

His statement led to a debate with Moon about elements of justice, in which Moon claimed An lacks “anger” for injustice. An responded back that anger is not appropriate for a leader but later apologized for giving “bad examples” with the presidents.

Park was impeached by the National Assembly on Dec. 9 over allegations she allowed her confidante Choi Soon-sil to meddle in state affairs and colluded with her to extort funds from conglomerates in exchange for business favors.

The only figure currently expected to stand for the conservative parties, acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn also saw a drop in support, garnering a support rating of 11.6 percent. Ahn Cheol-soo, speaking for the runner-up opposition People’s Party, saw an increase of 1.7 percent to sit at 10.5 percent.

The Democratic Party continued to keep its lead with 45.4 percent, followed by the ruling Liberty Korea Party, formerly the Saenuri Party, which posted 13.4 percent, and the People’s Party at 12.2 percent. The latest survey showed the conservative splinter Bareun Party and minor liberal Justice Party garnering support ratings of 6.3 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively.

The weekly poll was conducted on 1,508 citizens from Monday to Tuesday.

By Jo He-rim (