Five key things to know about Denmark’s local election results

The results from Denmark’s municipal and regional elections are in and there’s plenty to unpack.

Social Democrat Sophie Hæstorp Andersen is the new lord mayor of Copenhagen after November 16th local elections, but her party had a difficult night overall.
Social Democrat Sophie Hæstorp Andersen is the new lord mayor of Copenhagen after November 16th local elections, but her party had a difficult night overall. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Five key outcomes from the election reflect the contrasting fortunes of the competing political parties.

Conservatives lose Frederiksberg after 112 years

The Social Democrats have taken the mayor’s office in Frederiksberg, the Copenhagen municipality that has had a Conservative mayor for over a century. The race in the capital was expected to be one of the evening’s most dramatic.

Although the Conservatives and their incumbent mayor Simon Aggesen took 40.4 percent of the vote, an increase of 3.3 points on the 2017 election, that was not enough to hold off the Social Democrats, who were able to form an alliance with the other left-wing parties to put a majority behind their candidate Michael Vindfeldt.

Losing night for the Social Democrats despite holding Copenhagen mayor’s office

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s party did not perform well at the polls overall, despite the historic triumph in Frederiksberg.

The headline defeat for the Social Democrats came in Copenhagen itself. Here, the left wing Red Green Alliance won the biggest vote share, humiliating the powerful government party which usually has a strong position in the capital.

Despite the Red Green Alliance victory, the Social Democrats keep the mayor’s office with their candidate Sophie Hæstorp Andersen taking over the job with an absolute majority of parties backing her candidacy.

But a 10-point loss of the vote share still represents a big defeat and reflects the unpopularity in Copenhagen of the politics of the parliamentary Social Democrats, who have often directed unfavourable rhetoric at metropolitan demographics and, for example, cut university education in the capital in favour of smaller towns.

Nationally, the 28.45 percent vote share for the Social Democrats is a 4 percent loss compared to 2017.

Danish People’s Party could get new leader after another heavy defeat

Just like at the 2019 general election, 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.

Leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl said this morning that he will move for an extraordinary annual meeting at which the anti-immigration party could elect a new leader.

Asked if he would run in a new leadership contest, Thulesen 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”.

Loss of Frederiksberg does not ruin good night for Conservatives

Despite the sensational loss of Frederiksberg described above, the Conservative party can convincingly argue they were the biggest winners after translating their national popularity to increased local vote shares.

Nationally, the party took 15.23 percent of the vote share, which comes close to doubling the 8.78 percent result from 2017. In terms of municipal seats, the party becomes the third-largest in Denmark.

The other big conservative party, the Liberals (Venstre) performed slightly better than expected although their vote share was reduced to 21.18 percent from 2017’s 23.06 percent.

Of the four mainstream ‘red bloc’ parties on the left wing, all apart from the Social Democrats had a decent night. The Socialist People’s Party (SF), Social Liberal Party and Red Green Alliance all increased their vote shares by between 1 and 2 percent.

Far right party outperforms own expectations

The far-right party Nye Borgerlige (New Right), which was formed in 2015 and entered parliament in 2019, outstripped its stated ambition of gaining 10 municipal seats by some distance, and by more than many analysts predicted, ending with 64.

The anti-immigration, anti-EU and anti-Islam party has now fully established itself at the local and national level after taking just a single municipal seat in 2017. It increased its vote share from 0.9 percent four years ago to 3.6 percent in 2021.

While it is likely that Nye Borgerlige is profiting from far-right voters who are abandoning the Danish People’s Party, it’s worth observing that the combined vote shares for these two parties are lower in 2021, at 7.7 percent, than in 2017, when the combined share was 9.6 percent.

READ ALSO: A foreigner’s guide to understanding Danish politics in five minutes

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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.