2022 Danish election For Members

Denmark elects: The political news from the first week of the election campaign

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Denmark elects: The political news from the first week of the election campaign
Former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen's election placards near the Copenhagen lakes. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

What has Denmark been talking about since the election was announced last week? Here are some of the main talking points ahead of the Danish parliamentary election on November 1st.


The Danish election was called by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Wednesday last week, giving political parties and candidates across the country just under four weeks to convince voters to place their crosses next to them.

The five days since the announcement have seen key policy announcements, controversies and bickering.

Frederiksen created headlines with the election announcement itself by stating that her priority is to form a “broad government” or centre coalition. She later named four parties: the Social Liberals, Moderates, Liberals and Conservatives, as potential partners.


While the former two parties are in favour of governing across Denmark’s centre, the latter two – who command a much larger share of the vote and each have their own candidates for Prime Minister – have come out against it.

Should Denmark end up with a centre coalition – it looks against the odds overall at the time of writing – we would see a break with the ‘bloc’ system around which parliament usually operates.

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

Policies, apologies and plans for Ørsted

Frederiksen aside, the party leader in the headlines most over the last week was Conservative leader Søren Pape Poulsen. Like his Liberal party counterpart Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, Poulsen is running as a candidate for the PM job.

He does not appear to have helped his chances with a couple of, to put it generously, heavy-handed statements.

Hours after the election was called, Poulsen told television cameras that Denmark needed more indianere. This word is Danish for “Indian” but means “Native American” but not “person from India”, which is a different word, inder.

Poulsen was referring to a lack of care staff in the elderly sector. His choice of the word indianere as an informal term for such workers was criticised by political opponents as being disrespectful to them (but seemingly not to Native Americans).

The Conservative leader defended his comments by saying he was drawing on an old Danish idiom, færre høvdinge, flere indianere (“fewer chiefs, more Indians”) to point out the need for more care staff.

Later in the week, Poulsen again put his foot in it after it emerged he had described autonomous Danish territory Greenland as “Africa on ice”.

He apologised for this comment during a TV2 debate on Sunday night, saying “sorry to Greenland and Greenlanders that I said something very clumsy”.

He immediately shifted to an attack angle, though, addressing Frederiksen and asking her to apologise directly to camera for her part in the mink scandal of 2020, which cost mink fur farmers their livelihoods and the Danish state billions of kroner in compensation. Frederiksen received an official rebuke for the episode following an inquiry this year.


Frederiksen’s role in the mink scandal – and refusal to admit she made an error – has been consistently used by opponents who say it is evidence she can’t be trusted.

In the TV debate, the PM said she had “apologised to the country’s mink owners. It was not a good sequence of events. But I don’t think it was a mistake to cull the mink,” she said.

If you want the full backstory on the mink scandal, it can be found here. Frederiksen, who has been accused of refusing to apologise for mistakes, has not apologised directly for her role in the mink scandal but did say sorry in an earlier TV debate for smaller mistakes (such as using the phrase “live with it” about Covid-19 restrictions in a text message conversation with a government staffer).

READ ALSO: A dent in political credibility can cost parties in Denmark thousands of votes, researcher warns

The Liberal party announced on Friday that it wants to sell the state's ownership stake in energy company Ørsted's offshore wind business to finance parts of an investment of 60 billion kroner in the green transition up to 2030.

Party leader Ellemann-Jensen said the plan would “enable massive climate investments without taxes being raised.”

Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities Dan Jørgensen of the Social Democrats called the sale of parts of Ørsted “unreasonable,” adding that it would come at “an unreasonable time.”

“I think it is a very unwise proposal in a time when there is so much uncertainty in the world. On the contrary, we have to protect the important energy infrastructure we have,” he said.


The Social Democrats say they want to cut taxes in a policy that you might normally expect to come from their conservative opponents.

The policy includes more money for families and an increase to the tax deduction for people in employment, beskæftigelsesfradraget.

Other parties – on both sides of the left-right divide – have expressed skepticism, broadcaster DR writes. While the left wing SF party said the proposal lacks balance, the Liberal party expressed doubt the Social Democrats, who traditionally support higher taxes, will follow through on it.

Faroe Islands, polls and placards

The other Danish autonomous territory, the Faroe Islands, requested it hold its part of the vote a day early on October 31st because November 1st is a national remembrance day. The request was approved by parliament.

Characteristic placards, which cover lampposts and bridge railings across Denmark in election seasons, went up this weekend. These placards are occasionally vandalised and the ugliest case of this seen so far appeared on social media on Sunday, when one of Social Liberal MP Samira Nawa’s placards was defaced with a racist slur.

This led to focus on libertarian party Liberal Alliance’s policy in favour of scrapping Denmark’s key anti-racism law, racismeparagraffen, which makes racist statements criminal. The party wants the law scrapped citing freedom of expression. Without it, racist graffiti could theoretically be punished as vandalism but not as hate speech.

In the polls, Poulsen is falling away from the other two candidates bidding to become PM, according to the latest poll which came out on Monday. He is now the favoured candidate amongst 21.8 percent of voters, according to Voxmeter’s poll for news wire Ritzau. Ellemann-Jensen has 24.2 percent and Frederiksen 54 percent.


This does not make Frederiksen a shoo-in for election victory as those numbers would suggest, because the other two candidates are likely to join together to oust her if they could gather an overall majority.

The traditional ‘red bloc’ which back Frederiksen for PM currently has a narrow lead overall.

Elsewhere in the poll, the environmentalist Alternative party has crept up to the 2 percent threshold needed to enter parliament, for the first time since early 2020.

The anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, once a major force in parliament, is also just over the threshold at 2.3 percent. Most of that party’s former voters are now spread between the Social Democrats, the far-right Nye Borgerlige (New Right) and the Denmark Democrats.

The latter of these parties was exposed by a journalist from Frihedsbrevet as having a gap the size of Copenhagen Harbour where its climate policies should be – but is set to fare well in its first election under the leadership of former immigration minister Inger Støjberg.

Did we miss any major election stories out? Is there anything specific related to the election you’d like us to focus on? Let me know.

READ ALSO: The Danish vocabulary you’ll need to follow the election


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