Is political tide turning towards Denmark’s conservative parties?

Outside Denmark's Christiansborg. A new poll has the gap between the right and left closing.
Outside Denmark's Christiansborg. A new poll has the gap between the right and left closing. Photo: Maria Albrechtsen Mortensen/Ritzau Scanpix
A new opinion poll has given Denmark’s left-of-centre parties under 50 percent of total support for the first time since August 2018.

In the new poll, conducted by Voxmeter for news wire Ritzau, the left-wing parties – commonly referred to in Danish politics as the “red bloc” – get a collective total of 49-3 percent of votes.

That means less than half of voters in the survey said they would cast ballots for any one of the governing Social Democrats, the Social Liberals (Radikale Venstre), the Socialist People’s Party or Red Green Alliance, as well as the environmentalist Alternative party and recently-formed Vegan Party.

The right-of-centre-parties or “blue bloc” gained 47.1 percent of support in the poll, its highest since the 2019 election. “Other” parties, including former prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s Moderates and the Independent Greens, take 3.6 percent.

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A statistical uncertainty of 3.1 percent applies.

Several political parties covering political spectrum are normally represented in the Danish parliament – there are currently 11 – with newer parties and fringe parties often entering and leaving parliament alongside the traditional parties, which include the Social Democrats and Social Liberals alongside the conservative Liberal (Venstre) and Conservative parties).

The many parties are usually broadly grouped into a “red bloc” and “blue bloc” denoting whether they fall on to the left or right ideologically. These blocs also reflect the normal lines along which alliances between parties are formed. Parties that have not declared or decided allegiance to either side can figure in polls as “other” when totalling overall support for the two groups.

Smaller parties generally back the leader of the biggest party in their “bloc” – normally the Social Democrats and Liberals – as candidate for prime minister when governments are formed after elections.

In the 2019 general elections, the left-of-centre parties garnered 52.1 percent of votes. Support for the government increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

Backing for the red bloc peaked at 60.2 percent in May 2020.

The new poll is the latest in a series evidencing a “normalisation” of support for Danish political parties, flattening the impact of the pandemic on this, according to Erik Holstein, political commentator with the Altinget media.

Nevertheless, the two sides are now closer than at any time since the election in 2019.

The Social Liberals were singled out by Holstein as a party whose struggles can be seen in the wider context between the two rival groupings.

The centre-left party has 5.3 percent of support in the new poll, having slid from 8.6 percent in the 2019 election. It has been hit by scandals related to the 2020 #MeToo reckoning in Denmark, which resulted in former leader Morten Østergaard resigning his post and later stepping away from politics.

“For the Social Liberals, this underlines the monumental crisis the party is in,” Holstein said.

“This is both a strategic, political crisis, where they are finding it hard to manage a situation in which they are no longer a centrist party, and an acute crisis with issues that keep bubbling up in the party,” he said.

The Social Liberal party, one of three allies which props up the minority government, has often expressed dissatisfaction at the hard line taken by the government on immigration and asylum.

A number of hidden factors in the poll also help to explain the now closing gap between the right and left.

That includes the growing presence of “other” parties, including the Moderates and the Independent Greens drawing points from the two blocs.


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