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What is ex-Danish PM Rasmussen trying to achieve with new party on ballots?

A new party created by ex-Danish prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen has been approved to run in elections after meeting legal obligations. What is Rasmussen, a wily and experienced political strategist, trying to achieve with his new Moderate party?

What is ex-Danish PM Rasmussen trying to achieve with new party on ballots?
The Moderate party can now run for election in Denmark, but founder and former PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen is still playing his cards close to his chest. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

The Moderates were set up by Rasmussen in May this year after the erstwhile prime minister left his traditional party, the Liberals, at the beginning of 2021.

Rasmussen’s new party on Wednesday gained the 20,182 so-called citizens’ nominations (vælgererkæringer) required to be rubber-stamped for inclusion on election ballots.

But the party has, at the time of writing, no published election platform and no candidates apart from Rasmussen himself.

“First and foremost, I’m grateful that so many Danes want to give this political project a chance,” Rasmussen told news wire Ritzau.

The former Liberal party leader described fulfilment of the electoral criteria a “milestone” for his new political project.

But he also refrains from calling the Moderates a fully-fledged “party”, for now at least.

OPINION: Why do the names of Danish political parties have to be so confusing?

Neither does he plan to reveal a party programme or list of Moderate candidates until after November’s upcoming municipal elections, even remaining elusive as to whether this will happen before or after the New Year.

“We are not a party. Neither did we become one today. We have now passed an important milestone. But when we form a party, and we will do so after the municipal elections, we will be authorised for elections,” he said to Ritzau.

He will not demand that candidates for the new party have political backgrounds, he said.

After leaving the Liberal party on January 1st, Rasmussen announced the formation of a “political network” that project evolved into the under-construction Moderates.

Rasmussen garnered 40,000 personal votes for the Liberals at 2019’s general election.

“I’m not going to state expectations. But our clear ambition is to get into parliament. Ultimately in a way in which forming a government will not be possible without us, without us having a decisive vote,” he said.

“The dream scenario is that what we define as blue [the alliance of parties on Denmark’s right wing, ed.] will not have a majority without looking towards us, and neither would there be a majority the other way around [for left wing parties],” he said.

The former PM also swerved questions as to whether he would back his successor as Liberal leader, Jakon Ellemann-Jensen, or his successor as prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, as candidate to lead a new government.

The Moderates will, according to earlier statements by Rasmussen, attempt to bridge the centre of Danish politics, keeping parties on the far right and left wings away from influence.

Should they attain any degree of success in that regard, the former government leader could return with a significant impact on front line politics in Denmark.

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Poll suggests Danes ready to scrap EU opt-out in referendum

A new poll indicates a majority of Danes is in favour of scrapping the country’s EU defence opt-out in an upcoming referendum.

Poll suggests Danes ready to scrap EU opt-out in referendum

The poll, conducted by Epinion on behalf of broadcaster DR, shows 38 percent of voters in favour of revoking the opt-out, compared with 27 percent who want to retain it.

28 percent said they do not know how they will vote, meaning there is still plenty of potential for both a “yes” and “no” outcome in the June 1st vote.

An earlier poll, conducted in March, put the two sides closer, with 38 percent of eligible voters then saying they would vote ‘yes’ to scrapping the opt-out, with 31 percent saying they would vote ‘no’ and 31 percent saying they didn’t know.

The government announced in March a June 1st referendum in which citizens will decide whether to overturn Denmark’s opt-out from EU defence policy. The referendum was called following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Denmark’s opt-out – retsforbehold in Danish – is one of four EU special arrangements negotiated by the Scandinavian country, and has seen it abstain from participation in EU military operations and from providing support or supplies to EU-led defence efforts.

READ ALSO: Why does Denmark have four EU ‘opt-outs’ and what do they mean?

In April, the wording of the question on voting ballots for the referendum was changed, following objections from politicians opposed to scrapping the opt-out.

According to a breakdown of the new poll, younger voters and women are the most undecided groups. 20 percent of men said they were unsure how to vote compared to 38 percent of women.

Among 18-34 year-olds, 39 percent were unsure how they would vote compared to 22 percent of voters over the age of 56 who have yet to decide how to cast their votes.

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