After declaring himself a candidate for Prime Minister earlier this year and seeing polling exceed 15 points in the summer, Poulsen led the Conservatives to a disappointing 5.5 percent vote share and 10 seats at the November 1st vote, a worse performance than in the 2019 election.
“If the party is to be resurrected, I find it very difficult to see Pape as the right leader. A replacement must be found in good time before the next election,” Mogens Lønborg, the former mayor of Copenhagen, told newspaper Berlingske.
“When you have lost two thirds of voters in record time through a catastrophic election campaign with scores of mistakes, you must also think about whether we have the right leader,” he said.
“Pape’s popularity was very much caused by a combination of other parties melting down and a smiling, pleasant and friendly nature and to a lesser extent by political results,” he said.
Poulsen’s popularity suffered after a number of damaging personal stories emerged in the run-up to the election.
These included media reports focused on his private life, political indiscretions when he was Justice Minister, and that he in September referred to Greenland as “Africa on ice.”
He later apologised for this comment during a TV2 election debate, saying “sorry to Greenland and Greenlanders that I said something very clumsy”.
Newspaper Politiken reported in Tuesday that Poulsen, in a letter to party members, said “I have obviously managed my personal matters incorrectly”.
A Conservative candidate from the South Denmark region, Dorte Schmittroth Madsen, told Berlingske Poulsen had “clearly lost the backing” of the party.
“So he is no longer the right person to be either leader or prime minister candidate,” she said.
The centre-left Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party changed their leader last week following a similarly lacklustre election result.
Poulsen has led the Conservative party since 2014.