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As it happened: Denmark gets centre-right govt

The Local · 19 Jun 2015, 01:47

Published: 18 Jun 2015 13:45 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Jun 2015 01:47 GMT+02:00

 
  • Populist Danish People's Party seen overtaking Venstre as Denmark's second largest, with 21.4 percent of the vote
  • Helle Thorning-Schmidt steps down as Social Democrat leader despite party's 1.7 percent improvement
  • Lars Løkke Rasmussen set to be next PM, as blue block take 91 seats to red block's 84 
  • Venstre sees vote share drop more than 7 percent.
1.46am That concludes our election coverage for the night. We'll be back Friday with the fallout. Thanks for following along. 
 
1.43am Niclas Jensen, The Local's resident Dane, has cleared up the mystery of the ebullient chanting and singing which has greeted many of tonight's speakers in Christiansborg. "It's the youth parties: They like to get drunk and sing and clap". 
 
1.42am  He gave another show of emotion as he finished his speech, seeming to fight back tears. "Tomorrow we don our working clothes. Have a good party."
 
1.41am "It has been a hard time for the Liberal Party, but it has also been a hard time for myself. And it has been a privilege to be supported by Denmark's 'coolest' family." 
 
1.39am People on Twitter pointing out that Rasmussen is going to be PM after bringing his party it's worst result since 1990.
 
1.37am "I am very glad that Helle Thorning-Schmidt has on behalf of the Social Democrats invited to cooperate in the coming term."
 
1.35am  "I will happily do so, because it is not a bad point to be taking over from." It seems he's now reaching out to the Social Democrats, praising them for governing from the centre and doing political deals with the right-wing parties. 
 
 
1.33am He thanks the other leaders of the right-wing parties, before thanking his opponent."And I would also like to thank the Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who called me an hour ago to congratulate me, and who told me 'You'll be taking it from here'"
 
 
1.32am "We are a party that stands together, and we have proven that over the past three weeks." 
 
1.29am "I am proud of being leader of a party that, despite everything we have been through in the past decade, still stands strong." 
 
1.28am A bit of disarming charm. "We also have to acknowledge that we did not get the election that we dreamed of, and there are many reasons for that - it is partly my responsibility. There have been questions about my credibility/character." 
 
1.27am  Now welfare. "We want a Denmark where there is a focus on core welfare, where we prioritise the sick, the old, the vulnerable," he says. "Tonight we have gotten an opportunity - but only an opportunity - to take leadership of such a Denmark." 
 
1.26am  And he's straight in on immigration. "We want a Denmark where we can get control of the flow of refugees. So that whenever a Dane looks into the eyes of a foreigner on the train or in the city, they will be looking into the eyes of a person who wants to embrace Denmark." 
 
1.25am  "I have said it before and I will say it tonight - in the Liberal Party, we do not want the keys for the sake of having them. We are a party that wants to make a difference for Denmark." 
 
1.24am "The Liberal Party has not had a particularly good election," he continues. "But there is a majority of parties that believe Denmark should have a new government. And that gives us an opportunity - but just an opportunity - to get the keys back." 
 
1.23am "Four years ago, we returned the keys to the Prime Minister's office," he begins. I said at that time that they were only a loan." The crowd starts chanting his name, "Løkke, Løkke, Løkke". 
 
1.22am Definite signs of tears on Løkke Rasmussen's face as he prepares to speak. 
 
1.21am Lars Løkke Rasmussen making his way through the crowd to cheers, whistles, chants and claps. They're surprisingly noisy, Danish political types. 
 
1.18am Now it's time for Lars Løkke Rasmussen to make an appearance. He's just climbing out of the car which has delivered him to Christiansborg. 
 
1.11am Helle Thorning-Schmidt ends her speech with a nice line she's probably been working on for a while. "I was Denmark's first female Prime Minister, but I won't be the last. Thank you for letting me be your leader for ten years. I love you all. You all deserve a hug."
 
1.09am And she's gone! "But leadership is also stepping down at the right time. And that time is now. Dear friends, I have decided to step down."
 
1.07am It's starting to look like she may be about to resign as party leader. "I have been party leader for 10 years and I have enjoyed every moment," she says. "I have done my best to earn your trust through the years. I stand by my choices."
 
1.06am "He [Rasmussen] can be relieved that he will be taking over a Denmark in great shape," she goes on. "And dear blue bloc : please don't mess things up this time."
 
1.04am "The Danish People’s Party may be the country’s largest blue party, but they are not the country’s largest. It's now up to Rasmussen to form a government," she adds, with he last line bringing laughter from the crowd. 
 
1.02am "I am so proud that so many young people want to be part of our group," she adds. "We won the campaign, but not the election." She then thanks the Social Liberal Party, her coalition partners throughout her government. 
 
12.58am She has begun her speech. "Together we have shown what real democracy is," she says. "The Social Democrats are once again the country's largest party". 
 
12.54am The dj played a few seconds of Gloria Gainer's disco anthem I will Survive, which sees somehow appropriate. 
 
12.53am Thorning-Schmidt has now entered the building along with her husband to singing, chanting, whistling, clapping and cheers. 
 
12.45am Rhythmic clapping and chanting inside the Christiansborg Palace as Prime Minister Helle  and her husband cover the last few minutes of their journey.  
 
12.39am Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt just left her home along with her husband, British Labour MP Stephen Kinnock. The TV cameras are now following her car as it drives through the streets of Copenhagen. 
 
12.33am International journalists debating whether Danish People's Party's victory has any precursors among other populists in European elections.
 
12.28am Copenhagen-based Norwegian journalist Tove Iren Gerhardsen introduces the new face of Danish politics for the world. 
 
12.21am Speculation already rising on whether Thorning-Schmidt will also resign as leader of her party when (or perhaps if) she eventually makes an appearance.
 
12.16am The Local's reporter on the scene Niclas Jensen is still waiting for Helle Thorning-Schmidt to make her arrival.

12.14am. Wales is preparing to welcome Denmark's soon-to-be ex PM, according to Cardiff University's Adam Brent. 

 
12:01am Ex-DF leader surprised by result
 
Pia Kjærsgaard, former leader of the Danish People's Party, has told TV2 she's surprised by the extent of her party's success:
 
"Did anyone think we would have been in this position? Even we didn't," she said.
 
We're expecting reactions from Helle Thorning Schmidt and Lars Løkke Rasmussen any minute. Stay tuned.
 
11:53pm Danish Tweeters ask to return DF heartlands to Germany
 
Election result maps showing how the Danish People's Party has swept southern Jutland have led some wits to suggest handing the south of the country to Germany (the area was controlled by Prussian forces during the Second Schleswig War, in 1864).
 
11.24pm “I have to say that tonight we have received a decisive survey from the voters about how the power relations should be for the next four years in parliament. And that is a poll that gives DF the opportunity for a lot of influence,” Kristian Thulesen Dahl said in his speech.
 
Nothing on whether or no he will seek to lead a new government, not even any sense of whether the Danish People's Party will be in a government. 
 
 
11.23pm The Local asked senior Danish People’s Party MP Peter Skaarup if the party had ever expected such an election result.

“No. It’s gone beyond my wildest expectations. I know we often fare better in these elections than the polls suggest since people often aren’t willing to admit that they vote for the Danish People’s Party, but it really does look fantastic so far,” he said.

“I think we need to see the final result before considering that. We have not wished to be in government. We have always intended to be a support party, which is still our current position. But now we have to see what will happen next.”

Asked if there was a chance that party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl would be Denmark’s next Prime Minister, Skaarup replied “that’s something we have not discussed at all. We will have to await the final result.”

 
11.20pm. "It is so unreal what has happened today," Thulesen Dahl begins, before praising his supporters. 
 
11.17pm The Danish People's Party's leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl,  far and away the winner tonight, has just begun his victory speech. 

 

 

 

11.10pm. DR have now called the election for the right-wing blue block.

Denmark's TV2, whose pollsters have egg on their faces after initially calling the election for Helle Thorning-Schmidt,  are now giving the right a strong lead.

 

 

 

10.28 - Kristian Jensen, the Liberal Party's deputy chairman, expresses his party's mixed feelings when DR catches him at Christiansborg. "It is no secret that it seems to be a right-wing government," he said. "But it is still a mixture of a great smile and a bleeding heart, because we have had to say goodbye to a lot of seats in the Liberals. " 

10.23 The big talking point right now is who will be prime minister if the current projections turn out to be accurate and the Danish People's Party are the largest right-wing party. The DPP are playing down the possibility, but..

 

10.22 Sweden's former Prime Minister Carl Bildt likens the future right-wing coalition to the government which won Finland's election in April.

 

 

 

The FT's Richard Milne points out that the Danish People's Party are talking down the prospect of Kristian Thulesen Dahl becoming prime minister.

 

 
10.11pm “If these results hold up that would be sensational,” DF MP Søren Espersen told journalists.

Among things that the Danish People’s Party MP mentioned that his party would fight for was bringing back border control. “But it’s for Kristian to decide what happens next [if DF becomes Denmark’s second-largest party].

There was also shock among the Social Democrat supporters.“That’s a horror scenario. I don’t think anyone really believed there was a chance that that would happen. But let’s wait and see what happens, all the votes haven’t been tallied yet,” Louise Hansen told The Local.

DR Political analyst Ask Rostrup noted that the Danish People’s Party could find itself in the unexpected position of becoming the “big brother” of the blue bloc.

“They are looking at a jackpot of sensational proportions, and I think that right now DF themselves are a bit confused about how they will handle the situation that they've landed in,” he told DR.

 
10.08pm Ian Manners, a British professor of politics at the University of Copenhagen, tells The Local that he is still trying to digest the meaning of the Danish People's Party's success.
 
"It’s an astonishing result. The interesting question is what this means for the construction of a government and the extent to which coalition discussions between the Danish People’s Party and the Liberals. I think the language has changed from wanting influence to saying that they’re not afraid of being in government. That’s been a big change in the past few days even." 
 
He said that now even the unthinkable, that the populists may even lead a new government, was under discussion. 
 
"Nothing is impossible. That depends on the willingness of the other right-wing parties to support a Danish People’s Party mandate," he said. 
 
10pm Nicolai Wammen, the Social Democrat defence minister, has pledged that his party will remain "a strong force" if it loses power. "The Social Democrats will be a strong force in parliament , whether we sit in government or opposition," he told DR. 
 
 
9.31pm An updated prognosis, based on an analysis of the 14.5 percent of the votes counted by state broadcaster DR, sees the blue block widening their lead to 95 seats to the red block’s 80 seats, giving them right-wing parties a surprisingly strong lead. 
 
DR's new prognosis also shows the Danish People’s Party overtaking the Liberals as the second largest party in the Danish parliament, with 41 seats to the Liberal Party’s 37.  

9.25pm The tone was less cheerful, but still hopeful in the neighbouring Social Liberal election party.

“It’s definitely a shame to see that we will probably lose some seats tonight, but a lot can still happen,” said one supporter.

Morten [Østergaard, the party leader] has done an amazing job and I am so proud of what we have managed to accomplish in this campaign,” he added.

 

9.21pm The Local caught up with Thulesen Dahl for a comment on how he feels the campaign has gone.

“Regardless of the circumstances we are going to have a great party tonight. It has been a fantastic campaign for us where we have had so many supporters on the streets. And now we are just awaiting the final results. The preliminary ones confirm what we have seen in the polls, which is that we will become a larger and more influential party, but I am excited to see how much support we will get from Denmark to push our agenda through.”

When asked what he thought about DF’s chances of joining a government coalition were if the blue bloc won, Thulesen gave his standard reply. “We will have to see where and how we can gain the most possible influence after the election.”

 
9.20pm The FT's Richard Milne hears that the Danish People's Party may come out of the election as Denmark's second largest. 
 
 
9.13pm The first preliminary result, based on six percent of vote counted, gives the right-wing blue block 90 seats, enough to form a new government and the red block 85, without counting the four North Atlantic seats. 
 
9.09pm More from Thulesen Dahl's speech. "We have never had as many active members as of now. This means that we are on track to become the people’s party, what we have been striving for for so many years. Regardless of the result, this election has proved that we are a party that the others cannot ignore.

8.56pm. Apologies for the delay. Here's the exit poll DR tweeted out earlier. 

 

 

8.54pm Some amusement in Denmark at the rude-looking word spelled out by some of the parties' names on the exit poll. 

 

8.39pm  "This day, this day is a day of celebration. A totally fantastic day of celebration," he told his supporters. 

8.38pm Kristian Thulesen Dahl, the leader of the Danish People's Party just walked into his party celebration to the tune of "You'll never walk alone", the Rodgers and Hammerstein showtune also used as an anthem by Liverpool football club. 

8.34pm Christian Democrats remained optimistic despite the first exit polls indicating that they would not make it into parliament.

“The mood has been positive, people have been happy, and our communications on Facebook have been seen by thousands of people today. We look forward to seeing the rest of the results,” said Bent Hansen, vice-leader of the party in a comment to The Local.

Tage Sørensen, Press Officer for the party was also positive about the future. “We simply need to rebuild the party in a way that we need more younger people in… and we are well on our way to doing that,” he told The Local.

“The problem is that we haven’t been very good at communication. If you take church-goers, that is more than 10 percent of Danes. We need to get through to those people.”

 
8.27pm Daniel Hannan, the British Conservative MEP who was in Denmark on Wednesday to help the
campaign had congratulated the Danish People's Party on its result. "I'm delighted by the advance of our sister party, the Danish People's Party, as well as of the eurosceptic Liberal Alliance," he told The Local by text message. "Danes plainly remembered who wanted them to join the euro and who kept them out."
Story continues below…
 
8.25pm The DR poll gave the eurosceptic Danish People’s Party a higher than expected 18.5 percent of the vote, up from 12.3 percent in the 2011 election. 
 
8.10pm DR's rival TV2 has called the election for Helle Thorning-Schmidt and her allies, giving them 87 Danish seats compared to 88 for the opposition, which it predicts is enough to give her another term once seats from Greenland and the Faroe Islands are added. 
 
8.05pm The first exit poll is in from DR. DR fives the five right-wing parties 50.9 percent of the vote, putting them an unexpectedly large three seats ahead of the five left-wing parties, who had 49.1 per cent.
 
 
7.55pm Only five minutes to go until poll booths are closed and the first exit polls from DR and TV2 are released.  The major politicians are starting to turn up at Christiansborg.  Finance Minister Bjarn Coryden is for now holding the fort for the Social Democrats.  The Mayor of Copenhagen Frank Jensen, another senior Social Democrat, has also just arrived. 
 
 
7.39pm Six of the ten parties have decided to hold their election night in Christiansborg: The Social Democrats, Socialist People’s Party, Social Liberals, Venstre, Christian Democrats, and the Danish People’s Party. Each party has been delegated a separate hall for their festivities.
 
7.34pm The festivities are already underway in the Danish People's Party hall.
 
 

“I think it has been a fun and exciting campaign, as you can see we are very optimistic about tonight. It will be a good night,” Pernille Jensen, one of its supporters, told The Local.

 
7.16pm It's rare that Twitterati from the Faroe Islands are the ones to watch. But with this election likely to come down to voters in the North Atlantic, Birita Í Dali, a Faroese political scientist living in Nuuk, Greenland, may be worth a follow. 
 
 
"The Republican party from the Faroe Islands and Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA)  from Greenland will not commit themselves beforehand to the red block," she says. 
 

Republikanerne (Tjóðveldi) fra Færøerne og IA fra Grønland vil ikke på forhånd pege på rød blok #fopol #fv15 #dkpol

— Birita (@biritaidali) June 18, 2015
 
 
7.07pm Meanwhile, according to a survey of polling stations carried out by Denmark’s Ritzau newswire, turnout looks likely to be lower than normal in this election, perhaps as a result of what many see as a negative campaign.  
 
 
By 4pm, only 49.6 percent of voters had cast their votes, while 50.4 percent had voted by the same time in 2011. 
 
 
7.05pm The Danish Supermarket Jørgen Boye has run its own cake-based election poll, encouraging customer to buy differently coloured muffins depending on who they’ve voted her. 
 
In a press release issued earlier today, they reported 51% for the red block against 49% for blue block, basing their poll on 86,000 cakes sold. 
 

 

6.58pm Most of the politicians are still out trying to score some last minute votes, so Christiansborg remains fairly quiet. Once the voting booths close at 8 pm, the exhausted candidates from many of the political parties will gradually be making their way over here for their respective election night celebrations.

6.46pm The various political parties are already preparing for their post-poll parties.

Here's the venue whereThe Alternative, the new environmental party which hopes to be the kingmaker, is holding its event. 

Here's the venue where the Social Liberals (Radikale Venstre) are holding theirs. 

 6.23pm YouGov has conducted an exit poll for the the Danish newspaper MetroXpress, which has decided not to wait until 8pm.

The results indicate a dead heat between the red and blue blocs, and that the four mandates from the former colonies can tip the scale either way.

The blue bloc is set to get 50.4 percent of the vote and 88 mandates, and the red bloc 49.5 percent and 87 mandates.

This means that the North Atlantic mandates may prove critical. If they are apportioned as usual with three mandates to the red bloc and one to the blue bloc, then Helle Thorning-Schmidt suddenly has the 90 mandates required to win the election, political commentator Henrik Qvortrup told the newspaper.

“But if the Christian Democrats get a single mandate from Western Jutland [their focus area], the balance is tipped once again towards the blue bloc. It is going to be really exciting, and I don’t think that we can count on seeing either Thorning or Løkke declare themselves the winner of the election until very late into the evening,” said Qvortrup.

Venstre looks like it will go back from 26.7 percent of the vote to 20.6 percent according to the exit poll, while the Social Democrats will garner a modest increase from 24.8 percent to 25.1 percent of the vote.  

The Alternative is set to gain 5.1 percent of the vote and the Danish People’s Party 17.9 percent according to the poll.

6.16pm  While we wait for the news to come in, here's a quick update of day's events.

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt arrived to cast her vote at a polling station at Kildevælds School in Østerbro, Copenhagen, alongside her husband Stephen Kinnock, a British Labour MP.

"I’m asking people to vote for certainty and they know what they get with me," she said. "They get a stable economy and they get good welfare." 


Helle Thorning-Schmidt heads to cast her vote. Photo: Scanpix

Her opponent, Liberal leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen, voted at Nyboder school. "I want an open Denmark," he told reporters. "But I also want a Denmark which is effectively closed to those who do not want Denmark".  

Lars Løkke Rasmussen votes. Photo: Scanpix

6:00 pm

Welcome to The Local's live coverage of the Danish election! We will be regularly updating this blog with developments from Christiansborg, where our reporter Niclas Jensen is already in place, and elsewhere, until the winner has been determined later tonight.

This election has been labeled by political observers one of the country's closest in recent history. The latest polls give a slight advantage to the opposition blue bloc at 50.9 percent versus the red bloc's 49.1 percent, but the margin of error means that it is too close to call.

Here's the weighted average of today's polls from Denmark's Berlingske newspaper. 

 

See also: Denmark polls point to a nail-biting election

The Danish media has made a collective agreement to refrain from releasing exit polls until the voting booths have closed due to concerns that they may affect the outcome of the election, so we will have to wait until after 8pm for the first results.

Politicians from every party were out campaigning until the last minute amid speculation that the outcome of the race could be decided in Denmark's two former colonies, the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

The campaign has been dominated by three main subjects: the economy, the future of the country's cherished cradle-to-grave welfare state, and immigration and the rising cost of hosting asylum seekers.

See also: Economy, welfare take centre stage in Danish election

It has been three dramatic weeks with a number of surprises.

Venstre leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt have faced off in a number of TV debates against one another, attacking each other's credibility. Rasmussen has accused the Social Democrats of running a negative campaign focused on attacking Venstre.

The Alternative is predicted to garner some 4-5 percent of the vote, and may end up playing the kingmaker role.

See also: Elbæk: 'We are the joker of the election'

The Danish People's Party is also expected to storm ahead, possibly challenging Venstre for the title of Denmark's second-largest party. Be sure to check out The Local's analysis of the party here.

Several parties are expected to take a major hit in this election, most notably the former junior coalition partner Socialist People's Party as well as the Social Liberals, who are also likely to be punished for their time as a junior coalition partner in the current government.

Be sure to check out the Local's guide to the ten most exciting plots in the Danish election, which gives you a quick and easy overview of what this election is all about.

And for ease of reference, you can find a profile of each of the ten parties we will be referring to throughout this evening in the links below.

Red bloc:
Social Democrats
Social Liberals
Socialist People's Party
Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten)
The Alternative

Blue bloc:
Venstre
Danish People's Party
Liberal Alliance
Conservatives
Christian Democrats

 

For more news from Denmark, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

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