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Danish anti-immigration party leader heads for exit after election defeat

The leader of the Danish People’s Party Kristian Thulesen Dahl has announced he will call for a party vote on a new leader, in which he will not run for re-election.

Danish People's Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl has called for an extraordinary party congress at which he expects his successor to be chosen.
Danish People's Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl has called for an extraordinary party congress at which he expects his successor to be chosen.. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Dahl, who has led the right wing party since 2012, is to step down at an extraordinary annual meeting which he requested on Wednesday morning, he said.

The Danish People’s Party flopped badly in the local elections, losing over half of their vote share from 2017 going from 8.75 percent to 4.08 percent. That represents the party’s third consecutive election failure after poor performances the 2019 general election and EU elections.

Dahl said early on Wednesday that he would move for an extraordinary annual meeting at which a new leader could be elected.

Asked if he would run in a leadership contest, Dahl said “no, it’s clear that if an annual meeting is summoned, that’s a situation that is meant to enable a fresh start”.

He also said he expected the party committee to follow his request and call the extraordinary meeting, paving the way for a new leader to be chosen.

“We need to get out of the dead water we have been in for the last couple of years. We need to win back contact to the voters who can vote for the Danish People’s Party,” he said.

In addition to poor election results, the party has been beset by internal conflict over policy in recent months with former leader Pia Kjærsgaard, who founded Danish People’s Party with Dahl in the 1990s, levelling thinly-veiled criticism at her successor.

READ ALSO: Where did it go wrong for the populist Danish People’s Party?

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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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