Public opinion experts predict majority for ruling Saenuri Party in Apr. 13 elections

Posted on : 2016-04-11 15:38 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
With the opposition splintered, liberal parties not expected to win many seats outside of traditional stronghold
Members of the ruling Saenuri Party bow in front of voters
Members of the ruling Saenuri Party bow in front of voters

Public opinion experts are predicting a comfortable majority for the ruling Saenuri Party (NFP) in the general elections on Apr. 13.

With the opposition still in turmoil as voting looms two days away, the Minjoo Party of Korea (TMPK) was seen as unlikely to clear 100 seats amid the rise of the People’s Party and weak performance in the Honam region in the southwest, a traditional stronghold.

The Hankyoreh aggregated predictions on Apr. 10 from five specialist polling organizations, including Hangil Research, Opinion Live, and the Agenda Center. The results showed a predicted 155 to 170 seats for the Saenuri Party, with 80 to 99 going to the TMPK and 25 to 35 to the People’s Party. The Justice Party was expected to win six to eight seats, while independents were predicted to take six to 12.

Thanks to the splintered opposition and rising support for the People‘s Party, the Saenuri Party was predicted to take well over half the 300 seats in the National Assembly.

“The rapid strides made by the People’s Party are working in the Saenuri‘s favor in regions where it is in competition [with the TMPK],” said Opinion Live opinion analysis center chief Yoon Hee-woong.

Experts predicted the Saenuri Party would easily take over half of the 122 seats contested in the greater Seoul area (including Incheon and Gyeonggi Province), as well as over 20 of the 27 contested in the Chungcheong region.

Last minute mobilization by conservatives and possible rallying of senior citizen voters were also cited as bases for the Saenuri’s expected runaway victory.

“Support in the greater Seoul area has been picking up quite a bit. We‘re expecting around 145 seats now,” Saenuri central election committee spokesperson Ahn Hyeong-hwan said in a briefing. The number is up around ten seats from the 135 predicted a week before.

Most pundits see the TMPK as unlikely to score triple digits in seats. Indeed, not one of the five polling organizations predicted it would win 100 or more. Most offered a figure between 90 and 95 as more realistic - well below the 107 (the number they held before the election) that TMPK emergency committee chief Kim Jong-in stated as a “Maginot line.”

“The three-party contest basically makes it impossible [for the TMPK] to overcome its weakness,” said one polling expert on condition of anonymity.

Weak performance in the Honam region is another major threat, with polling organizations predicting only around 10 seats there for the TMPK - half of what the People’s Party is expected to win.

The People‘s Party was forecast to win around 16 to 20 seats in Honam, along with seven to 11 proportional representation seats. Experts predicted it would end up facing the typical limitations of a regional party: functional as a bargaining group in the National Assembly, but with no lawmakers representing constituencies outside the Honam region apart from co-leader Ahn Cheol-soo (Nowon-C, Seoul).

Strategy and public relations office chief Lee Taek-gyu offered a somewhat rosier prediction.

“There’s a ‘green wave’ sweeping through different regions and population segments. We‘re expecting around 35 seats, including 20 in Honam, four to five in the Seoul area, and 10 in proportional representation,” Lee said.

“There could be a margin of plus-or-minus four to five seats, depending on the number won in Honam, contested regions in the Seoul area, and the party vote rate,” he added.

The Justice Party was predicted to win around seven to eight seats, including one each for Roh Hoe-chan (Changwon Seongsan) and Sim Sang-jung (Goyang-A) and three to five in proportional representation.

“Our analysis of cross-voting and active voter trends showed that we should definitely be able to win seven seats,” said Justice Party spokesperson Han Chang-min.

“We’re looking forward to double digits, with two to four local seats and five to seven in proportional representation,” Han added.

By Seong Yeon-cheol, Lee You Ju-hyun and Song Kyung-hwa, staff reporters

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