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Danish Elections: Electoral Blocs Fracture Ahead of the Vote

Fresh off the back of the European Parliament elections, Danes are being asked to go back to the polls again on June 5th to elect 179 members to the Folketing (Danish Parliament). Will this election follow suit with recent parliamentary elections in Europe and see a rise in the vote of the far-right, or will the traditional parties hold their ground?

Will Either Bloc Have Majority?

Traditionally, Danish politics is split into two groups: The Red Bloc, who are centre-left to left-wing, and the Blue Bloc, who are centre-right to right-wing.

For the past four years Denmark has been governed by the Blue Bloc, led by Lars Løkke Rasmussen, after a surge in support for one of their coalition partners, the right-wing Danish People’s Party (O – ECR->EAPN). This narrowly gave the Blue Bloc a majority in the Folketing. However, a recent drop in support for the Danish People’s Party and fracturing of the Red Bloc, suggest that a working government could be difficult to achieve after the election.

Splintering of the Right

The biggest change from the last election in 2015 will likely be the result of the right-wing Danish People’s Party.  In 2015, they surprised observers by becoming the second-largest party, winning 37 seats in the Folketing and recording their best ever election result. However, fortunes seem to be different for them this time. The latest polling suggests that the Danish People’s Party will see around a 10% drop in their vote while losing nearly half of their seats. This comes a week after the terrible European election for the party, in which they lost nearly 17 points of their previous vote share and three of their four seats. Now the question is, why is this happening?

Since the 2015 General Election, Danish politics has seen the emergence of two new far-right parties; first Nye Borgelige [New Right], led by Pernille Vermund and then Stram Kurs [Hard Line], led by the controversial figure of Rasmus Paludan who recently burnt the Quran alongside his supporters. Both these parties seem to have split the right-wing vote in Denmark causing the drop in support for the Danish People’s Party, alongside the Social Democrats’ tougher immigration. Polling suggests both of these parties might just enter the Folketing, in what will be their first election, however, it remains to be seen if members of the blue bloc, bar the Danish People’s Party, will be willing to work with such extreme parties. For example, Stram Kurs are strong supporters of ethnonationalism, wish to ban Islam in Denmark and deport masses of “non-white” human beings. Whether the other members of the Blue Bloc can stomach this, is the question.

The Old Guard

The two oldest parties in Denmark, the Social Democrats (S&D) and Venstre (ALDE), have both remained stagnant since the last election. The most recent polling by Voxmeter and YouGov suggests that the Social Democrats will either maintain or slightly increase their representation in the Folketing but Venstre could fall to their worst election result since 1990, winning between 16-18% of the vote. However, Venstre can take some comfort in the fact they produced their best ever result in a European election on Sunday, but whether they can replicate this come June 5th remains to be seen.

Contrary to other recent national elections in Europe, the Social Democrats may increase their vote. But unlike their counterparts across Europe, as mentioned before, they have adopted a much tougher line on immigration, arguably in response to the rise in support for the Danish People’s Party that the 2015 election saw. This could be the reason why they have not seen the fall in support that has become so common across the continent.

However, this toughening up of the Social Democrat’s immigration policy has caused a split in the Red Bloc. Both the Social Liberal Party (ALDE) and The Alternative (G/EFA) have both stated that they would not be willing to govern with the Social Democrats over their policies on the issue. This could be a major setback for Mette Frederiksen, leader of the Social Democrats, as both the Social Liberals and the Alternative refusing to govern with Frederiksen could see it lose around 23 seats according to recent polling by Voxmeter, cause the Red Bloc to lose out on a majority., of

What can we expect from the other parties running in this election?

The left-wing Red-Green Alliance (GUE/NGL) also look like they will make no significant gains in the election despite taking their first ever seat in the European Parliament last week, won from the left-wing People’s Movement Against the EU (GUE/NGL). The Red-Green Alliance seems to have a very solid voter base but struggles to attract wider support than what it currently has.

The same goes for both the Liberal Alliance (ALDE) and the Christian Democrats (EPP). Neither of the parties is expected to make gains on Wednesday. Polling suggests that the Liberal Alliance will lose around 5% of their vote, only just getting above the 2% threshold needed to enter the Folketing. This comes off the back of poor European Election results, in which the party only won 2.2% of the vote, the lowest of all Danish parties running. This marked a huge blow for the Blue Bloc as the Liberal Alliance account for 13 of the Bloc’s seats in the Folketing, but this time they’re expected to gain only around six. The Christian Democrats will likely again fail to meet the 2% threshold to enter the Folketing.

A Green Surprise?

The Socialist People’s Party (G/EFA), who are proponents of eco-socialism, could continue the trend of a surge in support for green parties across Europe. Buoyed by the fact they won the third highest vote share in the European elections of 13.2%, they hope to replicate this success in a national election. However, they appear to be struggling to break through to the same extend in national polling and although they are expected to nearly double their vote share this election, they are still likely to only win between 7-9% of the vote. Nevertheless, they very well could surprise on election day and come through much stronger than expected.  In addition, the Socialist People’s Party is also pressuring Metter Frederiksen to be tougher on climate change if she wishes them to enter her governing coalition.

Beyond the Bloc

Whatever the outcome of the election, the forming of a new government will be difficult. We could even see parties reaching outside of their traditional support for this. In a newly released book by Kirsten Jacobsen, The Moment of Liberation, Prime Minister Rasmussen suggests that a coalition between Venstre and the Social Democrats is a real possibility, a so-called SV-coalition. This could see the first ‘Danish Grand Coalition’ since 1970.  A report in the Danish newspaper Politiken states that of the 824 votes held in the Folketing over the past four years, the two parties have voted the same way in nearly 90% of them.  Whether such a coalition can truly become established is very hard to see, with the Social Democrats stating that their aim is to form a minority government by themselves and hope to rely on the support of both the left and the right for their policies on welfare, education and immigration.