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Denmark's municipal elections could see low turnout without foreign citizens

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Denmark's municipal elections could see low turnout without foreign citizens
Election poster going up in Copenhagen. Photo: Jacob Ehrbahn/Polfoto/Ritzau
08:17 CET+01:00
More EU citizens than ever before are eligible to vote in upcoming regional and municipal elections in Denmark.

Denmark's municipal elections take place on November 21st, and election posters can already be seen across the country.

This year's elections could potentially see a record number of EU and Norwegian citizens vote at municipal and regional polls in Denmark.

Since the last elections in 2013, the number of EU citizens eligible to vote in the elections has increased by 32 percent, according to an analysis carried out by interest organisation Local Government Denmark (Kommunernes Landsforening) publication Momentum.

The largest contingent of eligible voters comes from Poland, where 31, 000 have the right to vote.

Around 21,700 Romanians, and a similar number of Germans, are also able to vote in the Danish municipal and regional elections.

Ringsted Municipality now has over 1,000 EU voters – double the number at the previous election – eligible to vote on November 21st.

The town's mayor Henrik Hvidesten said that many of that number don't consider it important to vote.

“Many are well aware that they are only living here temporarily, until the building of the [Copenhagen] metro is finished,” Hvidesten told Momentum.

In 2013, only 14.8 percent of eligible Poles and 13.8 percent of eligible Romanians voted.

Researcher and professor at the University of Copenhagen's Department of Political Science Kasper Møller Hansen said that low turnout from Eastern European citizens and others like them could have a noticeable effect.

“They vote significantly less than Danes and will bring turnout figures down considerably,” Hansen told Momentum.

"This is a group in which most are here to work, not because they want to stay here permanently. Their focus is therefore on their home country – politically, linguistically and culturally,” he said.

The Council for Ethnic Minorities has published a set of guidelines to help foreign citizens who want to participate in elections in Denmark. The guidelines have been translated into nine languages, including Polish and Romanian. 

READ ALSO: EU citizens don't realise they have a vote: Romanian candidate in Danish election

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