Disclaimer: The following is a totally unauthoritative personal translation of a political blog appeared in “Seoprise” on Dec. 21, 2012, reporting the analysis of presidential election. All rights regarding this post stay with the author(s) of the original article and this post will be scrapped immediately at their request. In the post, I tried to match the English translation of names of people / institution(s) / position(s) to authentic one(s) as much as possible but, unfortunately, some of them still can be different. Original article of this post (in Korean) can be found in the link below.
ⓒ Daum capture
Dec. 19, 2012. Korean presidential election is over. President elect, Ms. Geun-hye Park secured a majority of ballots and becomes the first female president outshadowing opposing candidate Mr. Jae-in Moon. Ms. Park collected 15,770,926 (51.6%) ballots while Mr. Moon garnered 14,689,990 (48.0%). The margin was about 1.08 million ballots (3.6%). In her election speech, president elect Ms. Park said “I will surely deliver all my pledges to the people and open a people-feel-happy era myself. I will surely keep three promises; president of people, president who keeps pledges and president who unifies whole country.”
Today in this post, I will analyze 2012 Korean presidential election and write about things we lost in this presidential election.
Outright contrasting generation election
This presidential election was held under heightened interest marking 75.8% turnout. During the whole 12-hour (6AM ~ 6PM) polling time, polling stations were packed with long lined citizens who tried to execute their rights as citizens.
According to the table above, one of the most striking fact is that age was a deciding factor in favoring a candidate. Voters in 20s and 30s proactively voted for candidate Moon while those in 50s, 60s and above proactively voted for candidate Park, which seems to stem from the difference they access information on current affairs. Younger generations usually get their information mainly from nonlinear complex media like SNS and online media while older generations usually do that from simple monolithic media like newspapers and televised broadcastings. This kind of tendency appeared since Seoul mayor by-election on Oct. 26, 2011 which overlapped with the explosive spread of SNS and smartphone usage.
Conclusively, the presidential election was determined by voters in 50s that scored close to 90% turnout. Since turnout of younger generation leveled off or dropped slightly and that of older generation including those in 50s spiked dramatically, spiked overall turnout worked in favor of candidate Park rather than candidate Moon.
Occupation-based approval rates
*Agriculture, forestry, fishery: Park 55.2 vs Moon 37.1%
*Self-employment: Park 50.2 vs Moon 37.1%
*White collar: Park 32.7 vs Moon 53.5%
*Blue collar: Park 43.1 vs Moon 48.1%
*Housewives: Park 55.6 vs Moon 32.3%
*Students: Park 27.9% vs Moon 57.7%
*Unemployed: Park 60.4 vs Moon 19.3%
Monthly income-based approval rates (million KRW unit)
*less than 200: Park 56.1 vs Moon 27.6%
*201~300: Park 40.1 vs Moon 47.6%
*301~400: Park 43.5 vs Moon 47.3%
*401~500: Park 39.4 vs Moon 50.6%
*over 501: Park 40.8 vs Moon 46.4%
Final schooling-based approval rates
*Middle school graduates or below: Park 63.9 vs Moon 23.5%
*High school graduates: Park 52.8 vs Moon 33.1%
*College student or above: Park 37.4 vs Moon 49.6%
Another characteristic of this election was the reversed social class factor; white-collar, high income and high educated voters supported candidate Moon more than candidate Park while blue-collar, low income and low educated voters supported candidate Park more.
We can also pick the influences of SNS and smartphone as the force behind this kind of reversed social class election. White-collar, high income and high education voters who get diverse nonlinear complex information through SNS and smartphone could make a more rational decision while self-employed voters, housewives, unemployed, blue-collar, low income and low education voters who relied heavily on simple linear monolithic information from newspapers and televised broadcastings looked for more stable choices.
The most striking example of reversed social class election is the case for agriculture/forestry/fishery voters and self-employed voters. Decisions by farmers/forestry workers/fishermen to support Saenuri party who had shoddily rushed to pass the Korea-US FTA and would hurt them most and those by self-employed people to support Saenuri party who had objected to regulations on hypermarkets and would eat up their own commercial interest were something beyond unexpectedness; they were rather bizarre and surreal.
In fact, remarks by two small self-employed shop owners in the vicinity of hypermarkets indicate interesting dissociation between political interest and their own reality. One thought hypermarket and political support were separate things. However, the other regarded hypermarkets as serious threat to his own store and changed his own political inclination accordingly.
All democracy deserves befitting government
What will the government by president elect Ms. Geun-hye Park be like? I think it would be treacherous, on three grounds. First ‘bipolarization’, second ‘low growth potential’ and third ‘breakup of public opinion’.
‘Bipolarization’. After retirement, Marriner Eckles, the chairperson of Federal Reserve Board during 1934 ~ 1948, analyzed the cause of Great Depression. He concluded that Great Depression in 1920s had nothing to do with excessive consumption. He rather pointed out that excessive accumulation of wealth by topmost upper class was the real cause of it. He recognized that ‘the intensification of wealth disparity’ was the real culprit of Great Depression.
Great Depression took place when top 10% income brass held about 50% of all earnings. Financial crisis in 2008 also took place when a small group of people took hold of about 50% of all earnings. According to the report on household finance examination by Statistics Korea in 2010, top 10% income brass of our country holds on to 47.2% of all national earnings.
If Ms. Geun-kye Park’s government fails to manage this kind of wealth bias or wealth bipolarization, it is highly likely to fail as well. Considering pro-chaebol and pro-tax-reduction for the rich pledges, however, the wealth bipolarization of our country will surely deepen in her government and it will be hard to escape from hardships, economies are concerned.
‘Low growth potential’. Accelerating aging, shrinking capital investment and low productivity in service industry continuously aggravate the potential growth rate of our country.
To overcome this crisis, we need to establish reliable wellfare system and resolve the social problem from accelerating aging. Also, we need to expand job-base to resolve the problem of young-age unemployment and we need to promote childbirth to solve the problem of low fertility. All these problems eventually get down to the issue of ‘where can we get the money’.
Income tax revenue of our country is equivalent to 4.4% of GDP, which is lower than OECD average 9.4% by a margin of 5% corresponding to 50 trillion KRW. Under this circumstance, however, president elect Park still argues tax reduction for the rich and does not present any plan to secure tax revenue for welfare. Since there is no plan to secure money to resolve these mounting problems, there is no way to solve these problems.
‘Breakup of public opinion’. Although Ms. Park is elected as the president, it only amplifies the problem rather than resolves it. In fact, not only Ms. Park’s election camp but also Ms. Park herself and her closest aides tried to breakup people and stage endless row among people from the start of campaign to the end; they threat professor Cheol-soo Ahn, circulated lies and fabrications about former president Moo-hyun Rho, disparaged him, painted opposing camp as red communists and even tried to manipulate public opinion using SNS. Contempt or even hostility rather than congratulation to president elect Ms. Park is the prevailing sentiment among 48% of voted-but-defeated people. Furthermore, these people demand sweeping reform on politics, economy, media, judicial system. If president elect Park cannot satisfy the expectations of these people, it is highly likely that the 48% of people may act as opposing power rather than act as cooperators.
But, this ‘breakup of public opinion’ is the only issue president elect Ms. Park can hold a grip on and I hope she can do something concrete on this.
Let’s remember this. Yesterday’s election scrapped … jobs for 20-30 youngsters, college tuition cut, 1M cap for yearly hospital expense, basic old-age pension increase, disabled people discrimination abolition; righteous history recognition.