Former Danish People’s Party leader quits amid links to new party

Former leader and co-founder of the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, Kristian Thulesen Dahl, has confirmed his resignation from the party.

Former Danish People's Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl
Former Danish People's Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Dahl, who lead the right-wing party from 2012 until January this year, confirmed his departure in a Facebook post on Wednesday evening in which he described the decision as “painful”.

Speculation that he would quit had been rife after four other high-profile members of parliament quit the party last weekend.

READ ALSO: Danish People’s Party decimated by new high-profile departures

He is also the 11th member of the Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti, DF), to leave the party since new leader Morten Messerschmidt was elected as the new leader at a national congress in January.

Departing members have largely cited Messerschmidt’s leadership as a primary reason for their decisions.

DF is now left with just five representatives in parliament, having had 19 elected at the last general election in 2019.

Those numbers are a far cry from the party’s strong showings in the early 2010s, which culminated in a 21 percent vote share and 37 seats at the 2015 general election.

Following last weekend’s departures, Messerschmidt called for Dahl to clarify his position. The ex-leader last week said he would not run for DF in the next general election, set for 2023, but had stopped short of quitting completely.

He wrote on Wednesday that there had been “pressure for me to take the decision on my future now”.

“My belief that things could get better in the party is extinguished so now it’s about moving on,” he also said in comments reported by news wire Ritzau.

Speculation has linked Dahl a new party, Danmarksdemokraterne (“The Denmark Democrats”), launched last week by former Liberal (Venstre) party immigration minister Inger Støjberg.

Støjberg was ejected from parliament late last year following a guilty verdict in a special impeachment court. Having served her sentence for the conviction, she is now bidding to return to parliament with the newly-formed party.

Some of the other DF defectors have already signalled their willingness to join the project, according to reports.

Støjberg on Wednesday said that Dahl would be welcome in her new party, but the former DF member told Ritzau he was yet to consider “whether to be a part of the project”.

“I am pleased that I would be welcome in Inger’s party,” he also said.

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How likely is Denmark to have a general election ahead of schedule?

Analysts in Denmark say Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen could announce a general election as early as next week, despite flagging poll numbers.

How likely is Denmark to have a general election ahead of schedule?

Speculation suggests that Frederiksen will announce an election, which could take place by October but possibly earlier, when the Social Democrats convene next week for their summer group meeting. 

Legally, the next general election can take place as late as June 4th, 2023. 

But despite worsening polls, a general election in Denmark this autumn now appears likely due to increasing pressure on Frederiksen from other parties and heightened criticism of her government.

“It will not be possible to make any new, broad political agreements on this side of a general election. There’s no willingness to compromise between parties. So Danish politics is already frozen by the election campaign, even though it hasn’t been formally announced yet,” TV2’s political editor Hans Redder said last week.

Redder said it was “relatively probable” that Frederiksen will announce an election in August.

“The political season begins next week. Several parties will have their summer group meetings and start calling press briefings. So it’s just a question of which date Mette Frederiksen decides on,” Redder said.

The Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party, which is an ally of the government, has demanded Frederiksen call a general election by October 4th.

Although a new general election is not due until next year, the Social Liberals earlier in the summer said they wanted an election by October after the government and Frederiksen were severely criticised earlier this summer in an official inquiry into the mink scandal.

The Social Liberals have the ability to bring down the government by withdrawing their support for Frederiksen and bringing an no confidence motion in parliament, although it’s not certain they would actually do this.

In addition to the mink scandal, Frederiksen’s government has been damaged by a high-profile case centred around leaks at intelligence service Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste (FE), as well as broader criticism of her leadership style.

“(Frederiksen) really needs some wins and we have not heard much about what their election platform will be. That will come when the 2030 (political) plan is presented,” political analyst Hans Engell told news wire Ritzau.

“Bad opinion polls are not conducive to an early general election and it doesn’t seem as though there is complete clarity over their 2030 plan. They are probably keeping all their options open,” he said.

Talk of an early election comes despite poll numbers looking as bad for the government as they have at any time since they came to power in 2019.

A new opinion poll by Voxmeter for news agency Ritzau on Monday gave the Social Democrats their worst showing since 2015. 

The ‘blue bloc’ — anchored by the Liberal party (Venstre) and the Conservative party — command 50 percent of the vote according to the latest poll.

Meanwhile, the government’s ‘red bloc’ holds just 47.5 percent. 

The demands that Frederiksen hold elections by October at the latest come from the Social Liberals, also of the red bloc.

The ‘bloc’ classification commonly referred to in Danish politics broadly denotes whether parties are right or left of centre.

‘Blue bloc’ parties will usually work together in parliament and back the leader of the Liberal party to be prime minister if they can command a majority after a general election. The ‘red bloc’ will usually support the Social Democratic leader to become PM, as is currently the case with Frederiksen.

READ ALSO: Danish PM Frederiksen loses majority in ‘neck and neck’ new poll