Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is clinging to her job after losing her majority in an election that began in the wake of a scandal over her decision to execute the country’s residents for minks.
According to a voter poll, Frederiksen’s Social Democrats are on track to remain the country’s largest party after Tuesday’s election, but its political survival depends on a new centrist grouping.
A preliminary study by public radio DR indicates that the Social Democrats received 23.1 percent of the vote, which would gain them 42 of the 179 seats in Parliament. This put them ahead of Jacob Elleman Jensen’s liberal party with 13.5 percent of the vote, or 24 seats.
But the result was also bittersweet for Frederiksen. If confirmed by official statistics, winning 42 seats would be her party’s worst election result in more than 100 years.
In a political landscape divided between 14 parties, the left-leaning “red bloc”, which had 85 seats, and the rival right-wing “blue bloc”, which had 73, were both short of the 90 needed for a majority in the 179-seat parliament. The remaining seats went to non-aligned parties.
was the election provoked by a scandal About the government-mandated culling of mink during the coronavirus pandemic. An uncharacteristically chaotic and exciting campaign ensued, at times seeming to foreshadow the twists and turns of the final season of the popular TV political drama ‘Burgen’.
If the poll results are confirmed, Frederiksen will need the support of former Prime Minister Lars Lökke Rasmussen and his newly formed moderate party, which received 9.3 percent of the vote, or 17 seats.
Rasmussen did not say he would support either bloc, putting the former prime minister in the position of kingmaker during upcoming negotiations.
He used this stance during the campaign to call for a broad coalition of more moderate parties from both the red and blue blocs, a move that could upset the country’s post-war political system. Some have even suggested that he could use his post-election influence to take up a senior position or even that of prime minister.
But Rasmussen, who previously served as prime minister from 2009 to 2011 and again from 2015 to 2019 for Denmark’s Liberal Party, said he did not envision becoming prime minister for a third time. “That’s not on my mind,” he said Tuesday morning after casting his vote.
Magnus Heunick, the current health minister and SPD member, told reporters that voters may have punished his party for some decisions they had to make during “a time when there was a real need for someone to show leadership”.
“I think we did it and we can be proud of it. But it may also have an impact, because some people may disagree with some of the decisions we made.”
Hyunick reiterated the party’s desire for a broad centrist government: “This result only supports our desire for broad cooperation. Now let’s sit down together and see if we can form a centrist government.”
Meanwhile, the Danish People’s Party, which was the country’s second largest party from 2015 through 2019 and directed far-right politics, has lost significant ground, according to a polling day. It is only expected to get 2.5 percent of the vote, or 4 seats – just above the 2 percent threshold in Parliament.
Domestic issues dominated the campaign, from tax cuts and the need to hire more nurses to financial support for Danes amid inflation and rising energy prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Immigration was once a central topic, but it fell off the agenda, in part because the Social Democrats pledged to stay tough on immigration, denying right-leaning parties a potential rallying point.
Although Frederiksen’s party will remain the largest in parliament, it has lost popularity in recent months – dropping from 48 seats to 42, if the poll is confirmed – after a number of scandals have rocked its reputation. Among them is a 2020 order to cull all of the country’s farmed mink over fears they could spread a mutated form of the coronavirus, a policy that has decimated Europe’s largest fur exporter.
A committee appointed by parliament said in June that the government lacked legal justification for the execution and had made “extremely misleading” statements when it ordered the closure of the sector. A left-wing party supporting Frederiksen’s minority government withdrew its support as a result of the report, forcing Frederiksen to call a snap election on Tuesday.
However, its centre-right opponents have also lost ground, with Tory leader Søren Pape-Poulsen hurt by exposing the lies told by his ex-husband and internally divided liberals.
Negotiations to form a new government could take weeks, and the right bloc will likely try to match or override every offer the red bloc makes to Rasmussen’s moderates in an effort to regain power.
This article has been updated with more details about the election day poll results and the election campaign.
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