Leader of Denmark’s Social Liberals resigns after election defeat

The Local Denmark
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Leader of Denmark’s Social Liberals resigns after election defeat
Social Liberal leader Sofie Carsten Nielsen addresses supporters during a disappointing election night for the party. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Sofie Carsten Nielsen, the leader of the Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party, has resigned after her party’s poor performance in the election.


Carsten Nielsen resigned due to poor support from voters, with the number of votes cast for her personally proving to have fallen significantly following final counting and seat allocations on Wednesday.

The count showed that Carsten Nielsen received 2,467 personal votes in the Outer Copenhagen constituency, 6,488 fewer than she received in the 2019 election.


“Voting numbers show very clearly that there is not confidence in me. And regardless of whether or not I am re-elected to parliament, the mandate is too weak. The voice of voters wants something different and I have the greatest respect for that,” she said prior to the release of individual vote counts.

“I can therefore naturally not continue as political leader. I send all strength and love to the Social Liberal group,” she said at a short press briefing at the Christiansborg parliament.

The Social Liberal party with Carsten Nielsen at its forefront was largely responsible for the election having been called ahead of schedule.

An election was not due until June 2023 but was triggered by the "mink crisis" that has embroiled Denmark since the government decided in November 2020 to cull the country's roughly 15 million minks over fears of a mutated strain of the novel coronavirus.   

The decision turned out to be illegal, however, and the Social Liberals threatened to topple Frederiksen's minority Social Democrats government unless she called elections to regain the confidence of voters.

But the Social Liberals were punished by voters at the election, getting a 3.8 percent share of the popular vote, compared to 8.6 percent in 2019. They lost 9 seats compared to their 2019 result and now have just 7 representatives in parliament.

Despite the electoral defeat, the party could yet play a key role in ongoing negotiations to form a new government.

The centre-left Social Liberals, traditionally a close ally to Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s Social Democrats, have indicated a willingness to govern across the centre with conservative parties.


Carsten Nielsen’s resignation means it is unclear who will lead the party in any future government agreement or parliamentary negotiations.

Martin Lidegaard, a former foreign minister when the Social Liberals governed in a Social Democrat-led coalition from 2011-2015, has been named as an early front runner to take over at the head of the party.

Ideologically, the Social Liberal party has liberal economic policies and progressive social views.

The party placed the environment and climate at the forefront of its election campaign, calling for new laws on biodiversity and sustainable production. It wants the CO2 emissions reduction target for 2030 to be raised from 70 percent to 80 percent.

The Social Liberals said during the campaign that they want 63,000 more people to be working in Denmark by 2030. This can be done by increasing employment amongst young people and allowing more international recruitment, they argued.


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