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23rd Feb 2024

Pro-refugee parties up in surprise Danish poll

  • Poll overturns conventional wisdom that anti-immgration policies win votes (Photo: Jonas Smith)

Pro-refugee parties are on the rise in Denmark, but the Social Democrat party recorded a historic blow, losing a quarter of its support in just two months.

The results are so remarkable, that pollster Megafon chose to conduct an extra round of questions, doubling the original number of respondents, before publishing the results in Danish media Politiken and TV2 on Friday (29 January).

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The Social Democrat party sustained a massive blow.

It went down 7 percent, from 26.3 percent in November to just 19.3 percent support. Four of five people say their approval fell because of the party’s support for harsh anti-immigrant policies.

The Danish parliament, on Tuesday, by 81 to 27, passed a controversial bill allowing police to seize personal valuables of asylum seekers to cover the cost of their stay. Refugees will only be able to keep items worth maximum 10,000 Danish crowns (€1,340).

The Social Democrat party supported the bill, which also restricts family reunifications to after a three-year wait.

In a first indication of trouble, three MPs defected from the party line and refused to support the law.

One of them, Mette Gjerskov, a former Social Democrat minister and MP, said: "I cannot vote for a separation of parents from their children for over three years. Or that we ask the police to search asylum seekers to find values."

"We all have our limit and mine’s here".

The poll follows weeks of international media bashing, with satirical cartoons showing prime minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen as Hitler, or showing Copenhagen’s iconic Mermaid statue dressed in jewelry seized from refugees.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei earlier closed his exhibitions at the ARoS Aarhus Art Museum and the Faurschou Foundation gallery in Copenhagen in protest.

Two ministers were also called to Brussels to explain the new law in a debate with MEPs in the civil liberties committee, where interior minister Inger Stoiberg noted Denmark was the fifth largest recipient of asylum seekers in the EU per capita in 2014.

Danish embassies worldwide sent out similar messages to try to stop bad press.

"In 2015, Denmark spent 2nd most among all of Europe Union states on refugees as a percentage of GDP ... a similar spending level is expected for 2016,” said the Danish embassy in Washington.

Meanwhile, parties with more a humanitarian-oriented approach are winning support, the Megafon poll showed.

After a long time in the dark, EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager's Social Liberal Party moved up, from 5 percent to 8.5 percent.

A new party, the Alternatives, comes out as the biggest winner, moving from 5.6 percent to 9.3 percent support since November.

"This represents a huge rift in society," party leader Uffe Elbaek told Politiken.

The two leading parties behind the tough asylum policies remain stable in the poll, with the Liberal governing party losing just 1 percent support and the Danish People's Party winning 1 percent.

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