How close could Denmark’s election be?

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is fighting to cling to power on Tuesday in a parliamentary election that could well crown an outsider.

How close could Denmark’s election be?
Leaders of Denmark's many political parties during an election debate on October 30th. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

In a political landscape split between 14 parties, polls suggest that neither of the two main blocs can garner a 90-seat majority in the 179-seat Folketing, the Danish parliament.

The left-wing “red bloc,” led by Frederiksen’s Social Democrats are polling at 49.1 percent, representing 85 seats, compared to 40.9 percent or 72 seats for the “blue” bloc of right-wing parties.

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

“It’s about winning the middle, because the ones who get the middle get the Prime Minister’s seat,” said Kasper Hansen, a politics professor at the University of Copenhagen.

The new party occupying the political centre is the Moderates, founded by former Liberal Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen.

The polls indicate his party will win 10 percent of the votes or 18 seats, a fivefold increase since polls in September gave the Moderates around 2 percent — much to the surprise of political analysts.

And Rasmussen, who boasts solid political experience, has refused to pledge support for either bloc ahead of the election.

Party colleague Jakob Engel-Schmidt said they “are ready to work with the candidate who will facilitate the broadest cooperation around the centre to implement necessary reforms”.

And what the Moderates want to reform is healthcare and pensions.


In their efforts to attract the often less loyal centrist electorate, Frederiksen’s Social Democrats have announced that they want to govern across the traditional political dividing lines. They too have floated the Moderates’ idea of a coalition government gathered in the centre.

“This goes directly opposite to what she’s been saying before, and I think that’s because she senses that she might lose power otherwise,” Martin Ågerup, director of the right-wing think tank CEPOS, told news wire AFP.

Led by two other prime minister candidates — conservative Søren Pape Poulsen and liberal Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, the right wing have not extended the same hand.

Without a clear majority, there may have to be long negotiations before a government is formed after the election, which could ultimately favour Løkke Rasmussen.

“He’s a ferocious guy in negotiations,” Ågerup said.

“He can basically operate until somebody will get scared enough to point to him and say: ‘Look, yes, you could be Prime Minister'”.

The Social Democrats, the largest party in the country’s political force, are trying to “play the card that they are the right party during uncertain times,” according to Rune Stubager, a professor of political science at Aarhus University.

Their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic was largely hailed, despite a stumble when they ordered an emergency cull country’s huge mink herd over fears of a mutated strand of the novel coronavirus. That turned out to be illegal.

With an economy in turmoil they have since introduced measures to help Danes cope with soaring prices.

They are proposing a carbon tax on agriculture and a pay rise in the public sector, while their allies have campaigned mainly on protecting biodiversity and support for children and the vulnerable.

The current government is negotiating with Rwanda to set up a centre to house asylum seekers, while their requests are being investigated.

Across the political landscape there is a strong consensus on maintaining a restrictive migration policy, meaning the issue is rarely up for debate.

“There’s a clear consensus in Parliament for strict immigration policies,” Hansen said.

The populist anti-immigration right is expected to win more seats this election, but it is split into three different parties who together receive 15.5 percent votes in polls.

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

Leading economists in Denmark say that scrapping the Great Prayer Day holiday is not a necessary measure and that the potential economic benefits for the state are dubious.

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

Three economists writing in a column in political media Altinget said there was “nothing necessary” about the plan to scrap Great prayer Day.

“Is it better, then, to cancel the government’s planned tax cuts, to cut public spending or to use the opposition’s alternative proposal?”, write the three economists: Ulrik Beck, senior economist with thinktank Kraka; and Michael Svarer and Hans Jørgen Whitta-Jacobsen, professors in economics at Aarhus and Aalborg universities respectively and both former members of the Danish Economic Councils.

The three economists go on to write that the answer to the question comes down to preferences and priorities.

They state that an opposition plan to raise an annual three billion kroner, the amount the government says the Finance Ministry will raise by scrapping Great Prayer Day, is “a fraction better”.

The three governing parties – the Social Democrats, Liberals (Venstre) and Moderates – want to abolish springtime public holiday Great Prayer Day in a move they say will enable increased defence spending to meet Nato targets by 2030, three years ahead of the current schedule. A bill was tabled by the government earlier in January.

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


In an alternative proposal, the nine opposition parties say they can raise the money by diverting 1.25 billion kroner from the public investment budget, 1 billion kroner from a winter assistance programme which the parties say was over-financed, and savings on business support spending of 0.75 billion kroner.

The three economists write that the opposition proposal could hold back the welfare system in future, however. Additionally, a reduction in business support could harm companies.

Regarding the economic effect of scrapping Great Prayer Day, they state that although this has a potential monetary benefit, it is uncertain.

That is because people working in Denmark could choose to adjust their working hours by taking less overtime or “hours of interest” (interessetimer), they state.

In addition, collective bargaining agreements between trade unions and employers could eventually provide for an extra day off in response to emerging demand for this.

That would negate the effect of scrapping the holiday, the experts said.

READ ALSO: What is a Danish collective bargaining agreement?