June 4, 2006

South Korea’s Roh approval rating at new low-survey

SEOUL (Reuters) - The approval rating for South Korean
President Roh Moo-hyun has fallen to a new low of 20.2 percent
following a stinging defeat for his left-of-centre party in
local elections, a poll published on Monday showed.

Roh's ruling Uri Party won only one of the 16 major races
for provincial governors and city mayors in the May 31
election, while the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) had a
sweeping victory in the polls.

According to the poll by Gallup Korea published in the
daily Chosun Ilbo, 84.6 percent of respondents thought Roh bore
some responsibility for the defeat of Uri.

About 40 percent of respondents felt Uri's setback was due
to the Roh administration's perceived inability to effectively
manage the economy, the survey said.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents said they did not support
the Roh administration, the survey showed. The poll was
conducted by telephone on June 3 among 1,022 people and has a
margin of error of 3.1 percent, Gallup said.

The drubbing for Uri leaves Roh in a weak position to push
his agenda of economic reforms and closer ties with North Korea
for the under two years he has left in his term, analysts said.

It also puts the GNP in the driver's seat ahead of the
December 2007 presidential election and parliamentary polls the
following year, they said.

Roh came into office in early 2003 promising to reform the
economy and change the nature of the country's alliance with
the United States. His support rating then was nearly 60
percent, according to Gallup Korea.