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

A new opinion poll has placed Denmark’s right and left wings in a dead heat, breaking a trend which has seen Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen maintain an advantage over her rivals and adding intrigue ahead of the next election.

Danish PM Frederiksen loses majority in 'neck and neck' new poll
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen visits a national Scouts camp on July 30th. A new opinion poll puts Denmark's left and right wings neck and neck as a general election looms. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The opinion poll, conducted by Epinion on behalf of broadcaster DR, gives the ‘red bloc’ of allied left-wing parties 47.9 percent of support, and 47.8 percent to the conservative ‘blue bloc’.

This includes a downturn in support for Frederiksen’s Social Democratic party, which has 24.2 percent support in the latest poll compared to 27.2 percent in the preceding poll from May this year. An overall majority for the red bloc has also vanished.

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 (Venstre) 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.

Each bloc contains several parties and therefore a range of political ideologies, however.

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

The hair’s-breadth gap between the two blocs is interesting at the current time because 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 said they would give Frederiksen until October to call an election after the government and Frederiksen were severely criticised earlier this summer in an official inquiry into the mink scandal. The fallout from the inquiry is a major factor in the poor performance of the Social Democrats in the latest poll.

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.

Another interesting element of the new poll is its inclusion of two new parties.

The Danmarksdemokraterne (Denmark Democrats), a new right-wing party led by former immigration minister Inger Støjberg, has 10.8 percent support in the poll. The Moderates, led by former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, has 3.1 points.

In both cases, this would be enough to see both parties over the threshold for parliamentary representation, giving them representatives in the Folketing parliament.

Støjberg has confirmed her party would work within the blue bloc, but the more centrist Rasmussen has not done this. As such, the ex-PM could have a kingmaker role should a general election be as close as the poll, because his decision on whether to back Frederiksen or Liberal leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen for prime minister could tip the overall balance.

It is unclear whether the Moderates will decide on which to support before an election, or whether they would wait until after the election results come in.

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BREAKING: Denmark to hold election on November 1st

Denmark will choose a new government on Tuesday November 1st after Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced a parliamentary election on Wednesday.

BREAKING: Denmark to hold election on November 1st

Speaking from the Prime Minister’s residence at Marienborg north of Copenhagen, Frederiksen confirmed widely-held expectations that an election will take place this autumn.

“Denmark is a fantastic country. But times are hard,” she said as she opened the announcement in reference to the energy crisis and war in Ukraine among other challenges, hinting that the government does not see the timing of the election as ideal.

She went on to outline the government’s platform policies going into the election, before confirming the date the ballot will be held, November 1st.

The government will seek collaboration with other parties across the political centre, she said.

Expectations that an election was imminent were reinforced on Wednesday morning when election-related ads were placed by Frederiksen’s Social Democratic party in Danish newspapers.

The ads did not directly confirm a general election, but did explicitly mention one, saying “Reality is about working together. The election is about who can make it happen”.

Frederiksen also gave a clear suggestion that a general election will be called imminently following the traditional opening of parliament on Tuesday.

“I daresay the election will soon start getting closer,” she told reporters.

Legally, the government could have waited until June 4th, 2023 to hold a general election, which is required once every four years under the Danish Constitution.

But the Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party, a parliamentary ally of the government, demanded Frederiksen call an early general election, after an inquiry into the 2020 mink scandal resulted in criticism of the government and Frederiksen receiving an official rebuke.

Recent polls have suggested the election could be a knife-edge contest, with little to choose between the ‘red bloc’ of left-wing allied parties, led by Frederiken’s Social Democrats, and the opposing ‘blue bloc’ of right-wing parties.

An opinion poll conducted by Voxmeter on behalf of news wire Ritzau, published on Monday, put the red bloc on 86 of Denmark’s 179 seats in parliament, one ahead of the blue bloc, on 85 seats.

Of the remaining eight seats four were projected to go to the newly-formed Moderate party, headed by former prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen.

Rasmussen has not declared his party for either bloc, saying he would prefer a grand coalition across the centre. He led a ‘blue bloc’ government as leader of his previous party, the Liberals.

The final four seats are allocated to representatives from parties in Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

More to follow.

READ ALSO: ‘Bloc politics’: A guide to understanding general elections in Denmark