Monday

16th Jul 2018

Populist surge topples Danish PM

  • Helle Thorning-Schmidt has resigned as Prime Minister as well as social democrat party leader (Photo: Valentina Pop)

Denmark will get a new government after the right-wing opposition won Thursday's (18 June) parliamentary elections against the ruling Social Democrat-led coalition.

The populist Danish People's Party (DPP) came first (21.1%) among the four parties in the right-wing 'blue' bloc raising questions about whether the party will enter goverment for the first time.

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  • A new government must tackle very different opinions on EU policies among the winning coalition parties. (Photo: EUobserver)

Normally the biggest party in the winning bloc can claim the position of prime minister.

But DPP-party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl hesitated to claim the post on Thursday evening, saying the role of forming a new government should be left to the second largest party in the bloc, the Liberals', Lars Loekke Rasmussen (19.5%).

Some very difficult days lay ahead for Loekke Rasmussen in forming a new government.

His Liberal party lost 13 seats in parliament and he is completely dependent on support from the Danish People's Party.

Border control

The DPP ran a campaign focussed on stricter immigration control, with vice-chairman Soeren Espersen suggesting on Thursday evening that border controls be re-introduced.

Daily news from Italy about refugees crossing the Mediterranean fuelled the party's campaign. It saw major gains in particular in the southern parts of Jutland, towards the German border,

The Danish People's Party is also a eurosceptic party and sits with the anti-federalist ECR-group in the European Parliament.

DPP has pledged to keep all Danish opt-outs from the EU treaties and to stay out of the euro. This is very different to the pro-European Liberal party.

To bridge the gap, the four blue bloc parties agreed prior to the elections to back UK leader David Cameron on EU reform.

The agreement - titled 'Danish Welfare in Europe' - aims to use Cameron's EU reform to restrict free movement between EU countries when it comes to benefits and welfare.

Goodbye to Thorning-Schmidt

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, for her part, announced on Thursday night that she will resign as prime minister as well as party leader, despite a fairly good result in the elections for her social democrat party.

The party is the biggest in the country (26.3%) and even gained 3 seats in the elections.

She became the first female prime minister in Denmark and is likely to be replaced as party leader by another woman, justice minister Mette Frederiksen.

The social democrats steered Denmark relatively unharmed through the economic crisis, but Thorning-Schmidt's popularity was hit by a series of broken promises at the start of her coalition in 2011.

The part sale of a state energy company Dong to Goldman Sachs is also thought to have had a negative impact on her result.

The group of centre-left parties surrounding Thorning-Schmidt together lost too much to secure her a second term.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager's Social-Liberal Party almost halved its previous score, receiving 4.6 percent, while the break-away Alternative party, lead by her former party ally Uffe Elbaek, made it into parliament for the first time on 4.8 percent.

Former EU commissioner Connie Hedegaard's conservative party also saw a drop in popularity and is now the smallest party on 'Borgen', a nickname for the Danish parliament.

Young business-minded Danes flocked instead to the new Liberal Alliance party (7.5%), led by a former MEP Anders Samuelsen and supported financially by Saxo Bank's wealthy co-founder, Lars Seier Christensen.

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