Denmark & Israel

Two national elections are being held tonight, both ahead of time.

We looked at Denmark a few weeks ago, when the early election was announced by centre-left prime minister Mette Frederiksen. Since then, the government’s position seems to have improved slightly in the polls. The four parties that supported it in the last parliament (leaving aside those from Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which vote separately) are polling in the mid-40s between them – down from the 49.2% they had at the last election, in 2019, but still within striking distance of a majority.

If they fall short, there are a couple of options. The Alternative, a Green party, didn’t join the government last time but is ideologically on the same side: if it makes it back (it’s currently polling close to the 2% threshold) then its handful of seats could make the difference. There’s also a new party, the Moderates, which has been gaining rapidly in the polls and is now in the high single figures. It sits in the middle of the spectrum, and has not ruled out supporting a centre-left government.

On the other side, there are five parties currently represented on the right of centre, which in aggregate won 43.1% of the vote last time. They will be joined by a new far-right party, the Denmark Democrats, who have taken over most of the ground previously held by the Danish People’s Party: the latter has dropped from a third-place 8.7% to only just above the threshold, while the Danish Democrats are in a tussle for third (behind the Social Democrats and the Liberals) with the Moderates, the “libertarian” Liberal Alliance and two rival far-left parties.

While the Danish election is only seven months early, Israel is going to its fifth election in just over three and a half years. The last one, in March 2021, produced a far-right majority with 66 of the 120 seats, but it was divided between incompatible elements – specifically, between supporters and opponents of outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently on trial for bribery and corruption.

Instead a broad-based anti-Netanyahu government was formed, with elements ranging from far right to centre-left and Islamists. It was no great surprise when its wafer-thin majority was not enough to ensure its survival, and last June parliament voted for an early election to try to sort things out.

Opinion polls show Netanyahu’s party, Likud, whose stocks rose when it first went into opposition, now back close to the thirty seats that it won last time. Yesh Atid (centre to centre-right), led by caretaker prime minister Yair Lapid, is still running a clear second at somewhere around 25 seats (up from 17). In third place is the openly fascist Religious Zionist party, an ally of Netanyahu, set for perhaps about 14 seats (up from six).

With the aid of two Jewish fundamentalist parties, Shas and UTJ, that would put Netanyahu very close to the 61 seats needed for a majority. Another six parties are in line to pass the 3.25% threshold; five of them, ideologically diverse as they are, supported the outgoing government, and together with Yesh Atid they look to be good for a seat total somewhere in the mid-50s.

That leaves Hadash-Ta’al, a left-wing mostly Palestinian ticket that is polling just above the threshold and may emerge with the balance of power. But although Arab citizens amount to about a fifth of Israel’s population, their political influence has usually been small, partly due to low turnout. And Lapid and many of his allies seem desperate not to have to choose between letting Netanyahu back or having to rely on the Arabs.

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