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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Denmark’s Social Democrats in worst opinion poll since 2015

Amid criticism over the government’s plan to abolish the Great Prayer Day holiday, Denmark’s biggest party the Social Democrats has received its worst opinion poll result for eight years.

Denmark’s Social Democrats in worst opinion poll since 2015

The poll, publish on Monday by institute Voxmeter on behalf of news wire Ritzau, places the Social Democrats on 22.8 points. That is some 4.7 points less than the party’s vote share at the election on November 1st.

The Social Democrats took 50 of parliament’s 179 seats at the election, making them comfortably the largest party in parliament. That number would be cut to 40 seats with Monday’s poll numbers.

The opinion poll result is meanwhile the lowest the party has had since January 2015, when it was in government under former leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

The poll carries a statistic uncertainty level of 2.6 percent.

The two other parties in the coalition government, the centrist Moderates and centre-right Liberal (Venstre) party, also suffer in the poll but to a lesser degree.

The Liberals have 11.5 percent or 20 seats according to the poll, with the Moderates at 8 percent or 14 seats.

The three parties have a combined 89 seats in parliament, but the poll would reduce them to 74 seats and mean they would no longer have the basis for a majority government.

A key challenge for the government currently is its unpopular plan to abolish the Great Prayer Day (Store Bededag) public holiday, in a move it says will enable increased spending in defence to meet Nato targets ahead of the current schedule.

The policy has met with criticism from trade unionsthe church and opposition parties, while the military itself has also distanced itself from the plan.

READ ALSO: Danish economists say abolition of Great Prayer Day is ‘not necessary’

As of Monday, a petition against scrapping the holiday had been signed just under 450,000 times.

A demonstration against the government’s bill to abolish the holiday is planned to take place next Sunday in Copenhagen.

While the government has seen poll numbers suffer, opposition parties have made headway.

The centre-left Socialist People’s Party (SF) is now at 13.5 percent after going into opposition after the election. That makes SF the second-largest party in Denmark according to the poll.

Libertarian party Liberal Alliance moves up to 10.6 percent, almost 3 points more than its election result.

The far-right Nye Borgerlige party falls to 2.5 percent following an internal power struggle.

The poll is based on responses from 1004 representative voters aged 18 or over.