Left back in Denmark

The swing to the right in Israel got most of the media coverage – we’ll have a look at that tomorrow, when the numbers are more definite – but Tuesday at least gave the left something to cheer about in Denmark. Danish voters seem not to care much about mink, because the government of prime minister Mette Frederiksen has been re-elected despite its culpability in an illegal cull of some 15 million of them.

Frederiksen’s Social Democrats even got a small swing in their favor, up 1.6% to 27.5%, and picked up an extra two seats. The two far-left parties that support her dropped 1.2% and three seats between them, and the Social Liberals, who had forced the election, suffered badly, losing more than half their support (down 4.8% and nine seats).

That brings the total for the government parties down to 44.8% and 81 seats, a drop of 4.4% and ten seats from 2019. But they should also be able to count on the Green party, Alternative, which despite a split in the last parliament picked up a seat to go to six (from 3.3% of the vote). That brings the total to 87 of the 175 seats from Denmark proper. Some of the initial commentary stopped at that point, thinking the government had lost its majority.

But there are also two seats each for the Faroe Islands and Greenland. The Faroes split one-all between left and right, but both Greenland MPs are from the left (one mainstream and one more radical), bringing the left-of-centre total up to 90 out of 179, a bare majority.

The exit polls looked a good deal worse for the government than the final result. The early version of Politico’s report had the Social Democrats headed for their “worst election result in more than 100 years,” but that had to be revised to a description of Frederiksen “celebrating the party’s best election result in more than 20 years.”

The established parties on the right, by contrast, all had a bad day. Last time, the three main right-of-centre parties – Liberals (right-liberal), Conservatives (centre-right) and Danish People’s Party (far right) – had 38.7% of the vote and 71 seats between them. Those numbers crashed to 21.4% and 38 seats.

Most of the difference went to newer parties in the same ideological spaces: especially the far-right Denmark Democrats, which debuted with 8.1% of the vote and 14 seats. But a significant slice went to another new party, the Moderates, led by former Liberal prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, which promises to balance between the left and right blocs. It collected 9.3% and 16 seats.

Although strictly speaking she doesn’t need the Moderates, the prime minister has made it clear that she wants to broaden the government’s base rather than relying on a one-seat majority in troubled times. Negotiations will now take place to try to bring Rasmussen on side, and possibly the Liberals as well.


2 thoughts on “Left back in Denmark

  1. Negotiations will now take place to try to bring Rasmussen on side, and possibly the Liberals as well.

    Venstre joined a Social-democrat-led government in 1978, but the experiment lasted less than two years, which suggests it proved unsatisfactory. Is there any reason to suppose it would be different now?

    As I understand it, the idea that both the Moderates and the Social-democrats (or their leader) were talking about before the election was a government combining parties from both sides of the centre, but I gather that this has been rejected both by other right-of-centre parties and by other left-of-centre parties (except RV). The idea of the Moderates joining a government otherwise made up of left-of-centre parties is a different one, with different implications for the Moderates. I get why some Social-democrat leaders (and also RV) might see it as giving them the advantage of greater freedom of manoeuvre, but that’s exactly the reason why I would expect other left-of-centre parties (and perhaps also some Social-democrats) to be hostile to it.


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