Who’s in it?
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen can stay on, after her left block secured a one-seat majority in parliament, thanks to extra seats from the outlying constituents of the Danish realm: the Faroe Islands and Greenland (which secured the decisive mandate). This was an election that saw the traditional far-right, the Danish People’s Party, all but wiped out. A new right-wing party, however, led by the former minister for immigration and integration, Inger Støjberg, received fourteen seats to become the fifth largest party in parliament, and anti-immigration rhetoric is continuing to fuel discussion in Denmark.
The widely expected kingmaker, former prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, didn’t succeed in his ambition to hold the negotiating hand, but his brand-new Moderate party still scored an impressive sixteen seats, becoming the third largest party in parliament. They sit just behind Rasmussen’s former party, Venstre, who are down twenty seats. This was simultaneously Venstre’s worst result for two decades, and the Social Democrat’s best. Interestingly, however, the party who demanded this election, the Social Liberals (who were part of the Social Democrat-led coalition) did worse, losing nine seats, and their leader, Sofie Carsten Nielsen, resigned the following day.
What does it mean?
After it emerged the prime minister’s order to cull mink during the coronavirus pandemic (she feared animal-human spread) was unlawful, Carsten Nielsen had demanded Frederiksen call an early election or face a vote of no confidence. It was despite a report in the summer that cleared the prime minister of deliberate misleading of the public, as she was said to be unaware the culling order was illegal. The decision was controversial among the public, but it was generally thought, despite her predominantly positive handling of coronavirus, it would probably damage Frederiksen. Exit polls, however (which had the Social Democrats on 85, short of the 90 required seats for a majority) were wrong, and overnight counting racked a wafer-thin majority in the 179-seat Folketing.
Still, though Frederiksen has her majority, perhaps pre-empting possible failure, she’d campaigned on a promise to reach across the political divide, bringing in the centre ground to create a “government for all Denmark.” So far, she has followed through on this pledge. But ploughing on unnecessarily risks dividing her left block, with current government partners sceptical of a cross-party coalition. Officially, as is tradition, Frederiksen has resigned, in order to form her new government. She’s currently serving as a caretaker prime minister and, though few expect her not to take the position back up, her government’s direction remains in a perilous position.
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