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Who do Denmark’s right-wing parties want to be prime minister?

Conservative parties in Denmark must now decide who their favoured prime ministerial candidate will be, with to party leaders declared as candidates for the job.

Who do Denmark’s right-wing parties want to be prime minister?
Danish Conservative party leader Søren Pape Poulsen announces he will run as a prime ministerial candidate. Will smaller right wing parties back him? Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark will have three candidates for prime minister in the next election – a change from the usual two – after Søren Pape Poulsen, the leader of the Conservative party, said on Monday that that he will stand as a PM candidate in the next general election.

Poulsen’s declaration on Monday means there are now two leaders from right wing parties in Denmark with an expressed aim of securing backing as prime minister following the next general election. The other is the Liberal (Venstre) party leader, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen.

The third candidate is the incumbent, Social Democrat Mette Frederiksen, who commands the support of left-wing parties.

Poulsen’s announcement means smaller right-wing parties will have to decide who they would ultimately back to be prime minister.

It is unlikely the situation would hand the election to Frederiksen, as the right-wing parties can be expected to eventually align behind one of Ellemann-Jensen or Poulsen should they have an overall majority after the next election.

The leader of the Liberal Alliance, a libertarian party which currently has three seats in parliament, told news wire Ritzau his party was yet to decide on a preferred candidate.

“It’s still too early to say for us. Primarily because it’s actually unclear to me what their visions actually are,” Alex Vanopslagh said.

Another conservative party, the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, is also yet to decide on its support, but leader Morten Messerschmidt welcomed Poulsen’s candidacy.

“It means something – who is the safest hand to lead Denmark through an uncertain time. And that’s what we’re going to have some good talks about, and I won’t be announcing anything here today,” he said.

“But I can just say that I’m very happy that Søren Pape has entered the ring,” he said.

READ ALSO: Danish Conservative leader confirms plan to become prime minister

Vanopslagh however said that Poulsen’s announcement “does not make a positive impression when [he] has waited for so long”, leaving Liberal leader Ellemann-Jensen to “take the flack” as opposition leader through a difficult period.

Pernille Vermund, leader of the far-right Nye Borgerlige (New Right) party, said she would not announce which of the two her party will back until after the election.

“Politically I’m probably a bit closer to Søren Pape Poulsen, but on the other hand the last three years have given me a good impression that if you make an agreement with Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, you can trust the Liberal party,” she said.

Vermund also called for clear statements from both party leaders on their immigration policies.

The announcement by the Conservative leader has disrupted the established order in the ‘bloc’ system which usually prevails in Danish politics.

The ‘bloc’ classification commonly broadly denotes whether parties are right or left of centre.

Recent decades have seen the ‘blue bloc’ parties work together in parliament to back the leader of the Liberal party, currently Ellemann-Jensen, to be prime minister if they command a majority after a general election.

The next election in Denmark must take place no later than June 4th next year, but recent speculation has suggested Frederiksen is likely to call an election as soon as this autumn.

A recent Voxmeter poll for news wire Ritzau gave the Liberal party 13.4 points, compared to 13.3 points for the Conservatives. The poll gave an overall conservative majority.

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

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2022 DANISH ELECTION

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.

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

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