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High-profile anti-immigration spokesperson loses seat in Danish parliament

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High-profile anti-immigration spokesperson loses seat in Danish parliament
Martin Henriksen visiting Lindholm, an uninhabited island where a facility housing foreigners sentenced to deportation will be located, in February this year. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe / Ritzau Scanpix
13:33 CEST+02:00
Martin Henriksen, the Danish People’s Party’s (DF) spokesperson on immigration, has lost his seat in parliament after the party’s crushing election defeat.

Henriksen ran in the Copenhagen greater municipality (storkreds), where DF was reduced from two seats to one, in an election which saw its national vote share slashed from 21 percent to 8.7 percent.

With fewer personal votes than parliamentary group leader Peter Skaarup, Henriksen was only second in line for a seat in the region, and therefore finds himself outside the Christiansborg legislature.

The loss of seat for Henriksen was confirmed on Thursday as votes received individually by candidates were reconciled with seats allocated to the ten parliamentary parties through Denmark’s system of proportional representation.

Henriksen, 39, who was first election to parliament in 2005, has emerged as a leading hardline voice on immigration and has maintained a consistently hostile position regarding foreign residents in Denmark.

In September 2018, he told news agency Ritzau that highly-educated foreign nationals had “(negative) consequences for linguistic and cultural cohesion” in the country, claiming that skilled foreign workers would create 'parallel societies'.

He added that, although the issue was less serious than that in underprivileged areas where crime rates and unemployment are above national averages, the presence of skilled foreigner workers in Denmark nevertheless meant that “we will end up living more divided (from each other)”.

In 2017, he said he wanted to stop foreign nationals from running in municipal and regional elections in Denmark.

Henriksen has opposed immigration minister Inger Støjberg’s scheme to help refugees enter the labour market through apprenticeships. He was a key proponent of the planned facility to house foreign nationals convicted of crimes and sentenced to deportation on an uninhabited island.

Speaking to TV2 on Thursday, Henriksen was pragmatic about the election result.

“That’s life sometimes. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the public and Her Majesty. Now I must find something else to do. I’ll take some time out, but it’s not pleasant to see a party you care about being halved (in the election),” he said.

Pia Kjærsgaard, the former leader of the Danish People’s Party and current speaker of parliament, said she regretted losing Henriksen as a colleague at Christiansborg.

“I’m very sad that Martin Henriksen wasn’t re-elected, I must say. He has worked so hard and this was a very big disappointment for everyone,” Kjærsgaard told DR.

The Danish People’s Party lost 21 of its 37 seats in the election.

READ ALSO: Samuelsen quits as Liberal Alliance leader after losing seat in election trouncing

 
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