From climate to immigration: Five things that really matter in Denmark

As Denmark looks set for a dramatic shift in its political landscape after Wednesday's general election here's a look at five things that really matter in the country.

From climate to immigration: Five things that really matter in Denmark
File photo: Sofie Mathiassen/Ritzau Scanpix

Climate concern

In the small country, which has a generally good record when it comes to limiting emissions but is also one of the world's largest pork producers, 57 percent of voters believe the next government needs to make climate a priority, according to a Gallup poll published in February.

Among voters aged between 18 and 35 years, the figure is 69 percent.

The country has already started going green, with 34.9 percent of its energy produced by renewable sources. The average among OECD countries is 10.2 percent.

In Greenland, an Arctic island territory nine times the size of the UK, the effects of global warming are already noticeable, with the rate of ice melting increasing fourfold between 2003 and 2013.


(Deposit photos)

Immigration restrictions

Denmark has a population of 5.6 million, with one out of 10 inhabitants born abroad. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of asylum applications quadrupled to 21,316 and the country responded by re-introducing border controls, which the sitting government wants to make permanent, and tightened already strict conditions for approval.

In the first quarter of 2019, 620 people applied for asylum in the country, the lowest number since 2008.

The outgoing right-wing minority government, which relies on the informal support in parliament of the far-right Danish People's Party (DF), boasts that it has adopted 114 policies restricting immigration, including a provision allowing for the seizure of valuable assets of migrants entering the country, although it has only been applied 10 times.

In addition to DF, which has wielded broad influence on Danish politics since 2001, two other far-right parties are in the running and opinion polls suggest they could gain seats in Denmark's parliament, the Folketing.

Anti-immigration sentiment has also rubbed off on most of the political establishment, with the centre-left Social Democrats, predicted to take over government, promising to stay the course on immigration.

According to the European Commission's Eurobarometer, 30 percent of Danes say immigration is their main concern, nine percentage points over the European average.

Welfare state and progressivism

Denmark sports an extensive welfare state model, financed by high taxes to ensure a social safety net.

Access to education and health care is free of charge, and a normal work week is 37 hours.

A staunch defence of freedom of expression is a cornerstone of Danish society, which is modern and progressive.

Homosexuality was for instance decriminalised in 1933 and the country was also the first in the world to recognise same-sex unions with the creation of registered partnership in 1989. Same-sex marriages were then introduced in 2011.

One of the capital Copenhagen's landmarks is the libertarian neighbourhood of Christiania, which has been the home of a self-managed community since 1971 known for its overt narcotics trade.

Economic competitiveness

The Scandinavian country is the 10th most competitive economy in the world, according to the World Economic Forum, but its protestant culture stresses moderation.

At the core of the Danish model is the concept of “flexisecurity”, allowing companies to easily lay off employees who then receive generous unemployment benefits and social services.

According to Eurobarometer, unemployment is only a concern for five percent of Danes, and the unemployment rate stands at 3.7 percent.

In 2018 Denmark's economy grew by 1.2 percent, held back by a modest increase in exports, on which the country is dependent.

Denmark is home to several internationally recognised brands, such as Lego, the world's largest producer of insulin Novo Nordisk and the world's leading container shipping company Maersk.

Land of hygge

The second happiest people in the world, according to a recent UN report, the Danes follow the gospel of “hygge”, a concept that stresses the feeling of comfort and coziness that can be found in everyday situations.

In Danish culture, everyone is expected to participate in working for the common good, which contributes to a sense of belonging and duty among citizens. In the previous legislative elections, voter turnout was 86 percent.

While most of Denmark's inhabitants are generally satisfied with their lives, they are also among the world's largest consumers of anti-depressants, with 77 tablets per 1,000 people swallowed everyday, well above the OECD average of 60.

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Today in Denmark: A round-up of the latest news on Monday

Find out what's going on in Denmark today with The Local's short roundup of the news in less than five minutes.

Today in Denmark: A round-up of the latest news on Monday
Sunny weather is expected all week this week. Photo: Niclas Jessen/Visit Denmark

Denmark’s former PM names new party Moderaterne 

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Denmark’s former prime minister, announced on Saturday that his new centre party would be called Moderaterne, the same name as the leading centre-right party in Sweden. 

In a speech held to mark Denmark’s Constitution Day on Saturday, Rasmussen said the new party would attempt to unite Danes with a variety of different backgrounds and political viewpoints. 

“Some prefer mackerel, and others prefer salmon. Some have long Danish pedigrees, others have only recently chosen to live in Denmark,” he said.

What they all have in common, he said, is their love for Denmark, which is “among the best countries in the world”. 

“How do we drive it forward? We are trying to find an answer to that. How do we pass it on to our children in better condition than we received it?” 

Rasmussen said the party would not launch fully until after November’s local elections, but was ready to contest a parliamentary election if the ruling Social Democrats decided to call an early vote, something he said he did not expect to happen. 

Sweden’s state epidemiologist warns Swedes to be careful in “high-infection” Denmark 

After the per capita number of new coronavirus infections in Denmark in recent days overtaking that of Sweden, Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has advised Swedes visiting their Nordic neighbour to be careful to maintain social distancing. 

“You need to keep [the infection rate] in mind if you go there, so that you really take with you the advice you have in Sweden to keep your distance, not stay with lots of other people, and not have the close contact that involves a risk,” he told the Expressen newspaper. 

He said Denmark’s higher infection rate was an obvious consequence of the country’s more rapid lifting of restrictions. 

“They chose to open up society relatively quickly even though they knew that there was a certain risk that the spread of infection would increase,” he said. “Because they had vaccinated the elderly and did not see that it would be that dangerous with a certain increased spread of infection.” 

Nils Strandberg Pedersen, former director for Denmark’s SSI infectious diseases agency called Tegnell’s comments “comical”. 

“It’s comical. It’s Swedish spin,” he told the BT tabloid. “Denmark has registered more infections because we test so much more than the Swedes. It’s not the same as having more people infected in the population.” 

More immigrants to Denmark are getting an education 

The education gap between first and second-generation immigrants to Denmark and people of Danish origin has fallen over the last decade, according to a story published in Politiken based on new figures from Denmark’s immigration ministry. 

An impressive 72 percent of 20 to 24-year-old first and second-generation female immigrants now completing further education of university education, compared to 58 percent in 2010.

Denmark records further 853 cases of coronavirus 

A further 853 people were diagnosed with coronavirus in the 24 hours running up to 2pm on Sunday, a rise on Saturday when 592 cases were detected, but still within the range of 600 to 1350 a day within which Denmark has been fluctuating since the start of May. 

Thorkild Sørensen, professor emeritus of epidemiology at the University of Copenhagen, told Ritzau that the sunny summer weather was allowing people to meet outside, and vaccinations were having an impact, allowing Denmark to open up without a surge in infections.

On Sunday morning, 138 people were being treated for coronavirus in Denmark’s hospitals, up four from Saturday, or whom 29 were in intensive care. 

Some 40.4 percent of the population has now received at least one dose of vaccine and 23.2 percent have received both doses. 

Sunny summer weather expected in Denmark this week 

Denmark is expected to have warm sunny weather with temperatures of 18C to 23C, with blue skies and little rain, Danish Meteorological Institute said on Monday. 

“This week looks really nice and summery, and it will be mostly dry weather most of the time,” Anja Bodholdt, a meteorologist at the institute told Ritzau on Monday.  “The only exception is Monday, when people in Jutland and Funen might wake up to scattered showers that move east during the day.” 

Danish property market show signs of cooling 

The number of houses being put on the market fell again in May, according to new figures released from Home, one of Denmark’s largest online estate agents. 

According to Bjørn Tangaa Sillemann, an analyst at Danske Bank, the figures suggest that momentum is seeping out of what has been a “scorching” market over the last year, although he said it was unlikely prices would actually fall. 
“Although demand seems to be declining, it is still high, and when interest declines, it can also make it less attractive to put your home up for sale than it has been recently,” he said.
At Home, 5.1 percent fewer houses were put on the market in May, while the number of apartments put on the market fell 9 percent, and the number of sales fell by 2.1 and 5.7 percent respectively.