Is a new political alliance forming in Denmark?

The Danish People’s Party (DF) and the Social Democrats (S) have long resided within their respective ‘blocs’ in the national political makeup, with DF a member of the right-of-centre blue bloc and the Social Democrats the leading party of the left-of-centre red bloc.

Is a new political alliance forming in Denmark?
DF's Kristian Thulesen Dahl and the Social Democrats' Mette Frederiksen got the Danish political world talking with their joint interview. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Scanpix
The two parties have a lot of overlapping positions and were traditionally divided primarily by DF’s hard-line anti-immigration stance. But recent years have seen the Social Democrats swing hard to the right on immigration in an attempt to keep blue-collar voters from fleeing to DF. 
The two parties have often found common ground and political commentators and analysts have long floated the idea that DF and S could form an alliance that reaches across the centre of Danish politics and freezes out Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s Venstre party. 
Those whispers got much louder on Tuesday after DF party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl and S leader Mette Frederiksen gave a joint interview to the trade union magazine Fagbladet 3F.
The two politicians praised each other and said that they have developed a good working relationship. 
“I notice that Kristian and I work in a very similar way. When there is a problem that needs solved, we make sure to find a proper solution. And we have actually succeeded in reaching a consensus in a number of areas,” Frederiksen told Fagbladet 3F. 
“I am pleased with the cooperation and what we’ll see what the future might bring,” she said. 
Dahl said that DF’s relationship with S has improved greatly since Frederiksen took over as party leader after former Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt left Danish politics shortly after her ouster in the 2015 election. 
“The last prime minister we had was Helle Thorning-Schidt, and I’ve said, both as a bit of a joke but also quite seriously, that I spoke more with Mette Frederiksen in the months after the 2015 election than I spoke with Helle Thorning-Schmidt during her whole term,” he said. 
Dahl declined to answer directly when asked if DF might back Frederiksen over Rasmussen in the next election but noted that when Rasmussen formed his single-party minority government in 2015 it gave DF “a different role in Danish politics” than it had before and that the party has used its new position to reach out to S on a number of issues. 
“Does it mean that things are frozen or laid in concrete forever in relation to where the [political party] positions are? No, of course not. We will use all of our energy to create the possibility for the Danish People’s Party to have a majority with more parties in parliament,” he said. 
Frederiksen also declined to give a definitive answer on whether S would consider asking DF to form a coalition government but hinted that she would consider all sorts of different party constellations.
“I think the closer we get to an election, the more alphabet games there will be,” she said, in reference to the tradition of referring to Danish governments by their party initials. The current coalition of Venstre, Liberal Alliance and the Conservatives is called the VLAK government
Video of the interview can be seen here, story continues below
DF was roundly criticized for declining to enter into a coalition government with Venstre in 2015 despite it getting 21.1 percent of the vote and becoming the biggest blue bloc party in parliament. Critics have accused DF of shying away from governing responsibility out of fear of losing voter support when forced to actually compromise to get things done.
The party, however, has argued that it has more success as an outside support party and can tout its impressive track record of getting ‘blue’ governments to bend to its will by bartering support on other legislation in order to affect policy on the party’s primary issues like tighter immigration rules and better healthcare for the elderly.
S currently has 46 seats in parliament, while DF has 37. The two parties would thus have to slightly improve on their 2015 election results to give them a 90 mandate majority. 
In Denmark, it is solely up to the prime minister to set a parliamentary election date, as long as it is done within four years of taking office. That means Rasmussen would have to call an election before June 2019. 
Before forming his new VLAK coalition there were rampant rumours that an election could come as early as this year, but Rasmussen seems to have staved off the threat from the libertarian-leaning Liberal Alliance by bringing them into the fold

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Left-wing party opposed to mining project wins Greenland vote

A left-wing environmentalist party opposed to a controversial mining project won a clear victory in Greenland's parliamentary election, according to results released Wednesday.

Left-wing party opposed to mining project wins Greenland vote
The Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party in Nuuk on Tuesday evening. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

With 36.6 percent of the vote, Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) was ahead of Siumut, a social democratic party that has dominated politics in the Danish territory since it gained autonomy in 1979.

“Thank you to the people who trusted us to work with the people in the centre for the next four years,” IA leader Mute Egede said on KNR public television after the results were announced.

IA, which was previously in opposition, is expected to grab 12 out of the 31 seats in the Inatsisartut, the local parliament, up from eight currently.

But without an absolute majority, the most likely scenario is that IA joins forces with smaller parties to form a coalition. 

Siumut, which headed the outgoing government, was partly weakened by internal struggles. It gained 29.4 percent of the vote, still two percentage points higher than its results in the 2018 election.

The dividing line between the two parties was whether to authorise a controversial giant rare earth and uranium mining project, which is currently the subject of public hearings.

The Kuannersuit deposit, in the island’s south, is considered one of the world’s richest in uranium and rare earth minerals — a group of 17 metals used as components in everything from smartphones to electric cars and weapons.

IA has called for a moratorium on uranium mining, which would effectively put a halt to the project.

Divisions over Kuannersuit originally triggered the snap election in the territory after one of the smaller parties left the ruling Siumut coalition.

Opponents say the project, led by the Chinese-owned Australian group Greenland Minerals, has too many environmental risks, including radioactive waste.

Egede told KNR he would immediately start discussions to “explore different forms of cooperation” before forming a coalition government.

The 34-year-old, who has been a member of the Inatsisartut since 2015, took over the reins of the left-green party a little over two years ago.

Snow fell over the capital Nuuk as voters queued at polling stations on Tuesday, with roughly 40,000 people eligible to vote in the legislative elections.

Face masks were handed out to voters entering a Nuuk polling station. There have only been a total of 31 confirmed Covid-19 cases and no deaths in the isolated territory.

“I’m voting for a party that says no to uranium,” 40-year-old Henrik Jensen told AFP as he left his polling station.

Polling stations closed at 8pm throughout Greenland, but in Nuuk officials decided to keep the doors open a while longer as latecomers were still lining up outside in the early evening. 

Greenland’s geostrategic location and massive mineral reserves have raised international interest.

The election campaign for parliament’s 31 seats has also centred on fishing, the main driver of Greenland’s economy.

And at a time when young Greenlanders are reconnecting with their Inuit roots and questioning their Danish colonial heritage, social issues and cultural identity have also been part of the debate.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the elections in Greenland

A strong local economy is crucial if the island wants to gain full independence from Copenhagen someday.

Denmark, which is not opposed to Nuuk’s independence, gives the island annual subsidies of around 526 million euros, accounting for about a third of its budget.

Greenland plans to develop its fishing, mining and tourism sectors, as well as agriculture in the southern part of the island which is ice-free year-round.

For Cambridge University Arctic specialist Marc Jacobsen, keeping the option of large-scale mining open is the reason why Greenland has not signed the Paris climate accord. 

The treaty lets states decide their own measures to meet the common goal of keeping global warming under two degrees Celsius.

“Signing the Paris Agreement would not allow them to develop any big mining project,” Jacobsen noted.

And yet the Arctic has been warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet since the 1990s, dramatically affecting the traditional way of life for Inuits, who make up more than 90 percent of Greenland’s population.

IA has vowed to sign the Paris Agreement if it comes to power.