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What's at stake for Denmark's political parties in the coming EU elections?

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
What's at stake for Denmark's political parties in the coming EU elections?
Activist for Denmark's Liberal Party (Venstre) celebrate after the party's success in the 2019 EU elections. This year the party risks losing two, or even three, of it's seats. Photo: Claus Bech/Ritzau Scanpix

With the Moderate Party at risk of losing its only seat and the Liberal Party facing seeing its number of MEPs halved, Denmark's junior government parties have a lot at stake in the coming EU elections.

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Campaigning in Denmark ahead of the EU elections on June 9th has yet to really get going, but the most recent polls suggest that the Moderates and Liberals, the two right of centre parties in the country's three party grand coalition, have the most to lose.   

A poll last week, carried out by Epinion for Denmark's state broadcaster DR, brought bad news for the Moderate Party led by former prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, with support for the party falling to 4.5 percent from the 7.4 percent the party had in a previous poll from March. This has brought it below the threshold of about 6.5 percent to get a seat in the parliament. 

When the party was founded in 2022, it quickly gained an MEP, after Bergur Løkke Rasmussen, Rasmussen's son, crossed over from the Liberals. 

But being part of Denmark's less than popular three-party coalition, together with a series of missteps by the party's lead European candidate, Stine Bosse, seems to have weighed the upstart party down. Now it's not only the younger Rasmussen, who is second on the party list, who risks losing his seat, but Bosse as well. 

The Moderates are not the only party to be struggling as a result of taking part in the government, however. 

The Liberals risk seeing the number of MEPs they have in Brussels halved from the four they won in 2019, and if they perform badly when the campaign starts for real, they risk being reduced to a single seat.  

This is the party that came out top in the 2019 European elections, in one of the last triumphs for its then leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen, overtaking the Social Democrats to become the biggest Danish party in Brussels. 

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It now looks like the Social Democrats, the only government party which can look relatively optimistically towards June, will take back that position. 

While support for Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen's party is plummeting in national election polling, falling to just 19.2 in the most recent Epinion poll, down 30 percent from the 2022 election result, it is doing better in Europe.

According to last week's Epinion poll, the Social Democrats stand to get 20.1 percent of the vote in June, only a slight decline from the 21.5 the party won in the 2019 European elections.  

With Denmark gaining an extra seat in the European Parliament following the UK's exit, this means the party is set to get four MEPs, up from three in the 2019 election. 

It's not only government parties that have reasons to worry. 

The Social Liberal party (Radikale Venstre), promotes itself as Denmark's most pro-EU party, and its former leader, Margrethe Vestager, has risen to become one of the most powerful figures in Brussels. 

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But the party is currently set to win just 7 percent of the vote, down from 10 percent in the 2019 European elections, meaning it is likely to lose one of its two MEPs, and is not too far off losing both. 

The Conservative Party, still reeling from the death of its leader, Søren Pape, from a cerebral haemorrhage in March, is also facing a difficult election.

The Conservatives are the only Danish party in the powerful EPP block in Brussels, giving it a seat at the table with the powerful German Christian Democrats,  France's Republican Party, and Spain's Partido Popular.

They have won one seat or more in every European election since Denmark joined in 1979. While last week's Epinion poll also gave it 7 percent of the vote, it also doesn't have far to fall to lose its only seat.  

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