Danish election paves way for centrist government: exit poll – POLITICO

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is clinging to his job after losing his majority in an election sparked by a scandal over his decision to cull the country’s mink population.

Fredriksen’s Social Democrats are on course to remain the country’s largest party after Tuesday’s election, according to an exit poll, but his political survival depends on a new centrist group.

An early poll by public broadcaster DR showed the Social Democrats with 23.1 percent of the vote, winning 42 of the 179 seats in parliament. This put them ahead of Jakub Alman-Jensen’s liberal party with 13.5 percent of the vote or 24 seats.

But the result is also bitter for Fredriksen. If the official statistics are confirmed, winning 42 seats will be the worst electoral result of his party in more than 100 years.

In a political landscape divided between 14 parties, both the left-leaning “Red Bloc”, which won 85 seats, and the rival right-wing “Blue Bloc”, with 73 seats, fell short of the 90 seats needed for a majority. In the parliament, 179 seats were given to non-aligned parties.

The election began with a scandal over government-ordered mink killing during the coronavirus pandemic. An uncharacteristically exciting and chaotic campaign followed, which at times seemed to foreshadow the twists and turns of the final season of the popular TV political drama “Borgen.”

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If the exit poll results are upheld, Frederiksen will need the support of former prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and his newly formed centrist party, which won 9.3 percent of the vote, or 17 seats.

Rasmussen has not said he will support either bloc, placing the former prime minister in a kingmaker position in future negotiations.

He used this position during the election campaign to call for a broader coalition of more moderate parties from both the red and blue blocs, a move that could disrupt the country’s post-war political order. Some have even suggested that he could use his influence after the election to retain a senior post or even the prime ministership.

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 a third term. “It’s not on my mind,” he said Tuesday morning after the vote.

Current health minister and Social Democrat member Magnus Heunicke told reporters that voters may have punished his party for some of the decisions it had to make “when there was a real need for someone to show leadership.”

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I think we have done it and we can be proud of it. “But it may also have its side effects because some people may disagree with some of the decisions we’ve made.”

Hyunik reiterated the party’s desire to form a broad and centrist government: “This result is only the basis of our desire for broad cooperation. “Now let’s sit together and see if we can form a moderate government.”

Meanwhile, the Danish People’s Party, which was the country’s second-largest party from 2015 to 2019 and the face of far-right politics, lost significant ground, according to the exit poll. It is projected to win just 2.5 percent of the vote, or 4 seats — just above the 2 percent threshold for parliament.

Demonstration campaign

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.

Once a central issue, immigration was on the agenda, in part because the Social Democrats had promised to be tough on immigration, denying right-wing parties a potential rallying point.

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Although Frederiksen’s party will remain the largest party in parliament, it has lost popularity in recent months – falling from 48 seats to 42 after several scandals rocked its reputation. These include a 2020 order to cull all of the country’s farmed minks over fears of the spread of a mutated strain of the coronavirus, a policy that devastated Europe’s biggest fur exporter.

A parliament-appointed commission said in June that the government had no legal justification for the killings and had made “grossly misleading” statements when it ordered the sector closed. As a result of the report, a left-wing party backing Frederiksen’s minority government withdrew its support, forcing Frederiksen to call an early election on Tuesday.

However, her centre-right rivals have also lost ground, with Conservative leader Søren Pape Poulsen rocked by revelations about lies told by her ex-husband and the Liberals suffering from internal divisions.

Negotiations to form a new government could take weeks, and the Right Bloc is likely to try to match or surpass any offer the Red Bloc makes to Rasmussen’s centrists in their bid to regain power.

This article has been updated with more details about the poll and campaign results.


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