The liberal Jakob Ellemann-Jensen and the conservative Soren Pape Poulsen are in the running to take her place, but a third man could also end up being a key player: the centrist and former Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.
Let’s take a closer look at the candidates:
Mette Frederiksen: the new anti-immigration left
At 44, the current head of government has embodied the new face of the centre-left Social Democrat, which has embraced ever stricter migration policies in the name of defending the welfare state.
The daughter of a typographer, she has been a member of parliament since she was 24 in 2001.
Frederiksen, who is a mother of two children, is intent on remaining at her post, and a recent poll suggested that 58 percent of Danes think she is the best suited to lead the country.
In 2015, the former employment minister and then justice minister, took over the reins of the largest Danish political party, following the departure of Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the country’s first female Prime Minister, after a
defeat in the parliamentary elections.
She became prime minister herself after the 2019 elections and has since led an all-Social Democrat minority government.
Her government’s battle against Covid-19 was widely praised, apart from the “mink crisis”: an emergency cull of all the country’s minks — some 15 million — over fears of a mutated strain of the novel coronavirus. That measure
turned out to be illegal.
It was this affair that hit her popularity and ended up being the tipping point for the calling of the new election.
Jakob Ellemann-Jensen: in his father’s footsteps
After a short career in the army and a decade as a lawyer, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen finally ended up following in his father’s footsteps. Uffe Ellemann-Jensen was the leader of the Liberal Party from 1984 to 1998 and foreign minister between 1982 and 1993.
His grandfather was also a member of the Danish Parliament, the Folketing, where his sister also currently holds a seat. Ellemann-Jensen had sworn that he would not follow the same path.
“I have seen what it can do to a family,” he reportedly told his grandmother at the age of 19 according to the Berlingske newspaper. “I won’t do that to myself or my family.”
Yet the father of three, who has been a member of parliament since 2011, took over the leadership of the Liberal Party in 2019, after Lars Lokke Rasmussen stepped down.
The former environment minister has not, however, been able to contain the implosion of his party.
Lokke Rasmussen went to create the Moderate party, and the former migration minister Inger Stojberg founded the Danish Democrats, the new champions of the populist, anti-immigration far-right.
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Soren Pape Poulsen: a modern conservative
Danish voters have long considered conservative Soren Pape Poulsen the most credible politician on the right, but his popularity has waned in recent months.
His trustworthiness has plummeted as a result of lies told by his husband who, despite his claims, is neither Jewish nor the nephew of a former Dominican president.
In 2018, the former stevedore who had become justice minister (2016-2019) introduced a ban on the wearing of full-face veils in public spaces.
At 50 years of age, including eight as the head of the Conservative Party, Pape Poulsen, who argues for tax cuts and a hard line on migration, is struggling to remobilise his electorate.
While opinion polls suggested his party could win 16.5 percent of votes two months ago, now they appear to be trailing at only six percent.
Lars Lokke Rasmussen: the wild card
Having already served two terms as prime minister, between 2009 and 2011 and then from 2015 to 2019, Lars Lokke Rasmussen has emerged as a wild card in this year’s election.
As the head of the newly formed Moderates, positioned as a centrist party, he has led an impressive election campaign.
Polling at 1.8 percent only a month ago, Rasmussen’s party is now seeing voter support of 11.5 percent.
The veteran politician has weathered several storms, including being caught using party funds to buy luxury suits.
A well-known figure among Danes, who appreciate his apparent frankness, he has not declared whether he intends to ally himself with the right or the left.