Miranda Aldersley, Daily Mail, June 5, 2019
Denmark goes to the polls in a general election today, with the centre-left Social Democrats predicted to win after adopting the right wing’s long-standing tough stance on immigration.
Opinion polls put the party, led by Mette Frederiksen, at 27.2 per cent, a comfortable lead of almost 10 percentage points ahead of Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen’s ruling Liberal Party, which has been in power for 14 of the last 18 years.
The polls also indicate that the far-right Danish People’s Party, which has informally supported Rasmussen’s minority government, could lose almost half its support, shrinking to 10.7 per cent.
aFor the last two decades the anti-immigrant party has supported successive right-wing governments in exchange for the implementation of their restrictive immigration policies.
But as those policies have now been broadly adopted by almost all Danish parties, the Danish People’s Party has lost its unique appeal with voters.
including sending asylum seekers to North African camps while their requests are being processed.
The policy also included a cap on the number of ‘non-Western’ immigrants allowed into the country.
Frederiksen embodies a new Danish Social Democratic model, with voters apparently won over by policies that still focus on a leftist economic model but ditch traditional left-wing thinking on immigration.
‘Mette Frederiksen has loved the Danish People’s Party to death with her tough line on foreigners,’ said Anja Westphal, an analyst at Denmark’s public broadcaster DR.
Nicolai Wammen, political spokesman for the Social Democrats, said: ‘We stand by our firm and realistic policy when it comes to immigration.
‘We believe that Denmark and other countries have a responsibility to help people in need but there is a limit to the numbers we can take in.’
Human rights campaigners and victims have said the legitimizing of an anti-immigrant stance has led to a rise in racism and discrimination.
Discrimination cases are up and the number of racially or religiously motivated hate crimes registered by Danish police rose to 365 in 2017 from 228 in 2016.
Louise Holck, the deputy executive director of the Danish Institute for Human Rights, said: ‘Politicians are moving very close to the boundaries of human rights.’
But Frederiksen said during a debate on the matter earlier this month that ‘you are not a bad person just because you are worried about immigration.’
She recently wrote: ‘For me, it is becoming increasingly clear that the price of unregulated globalisation, mass immigration and the free movement of labour is paid for by the lower classes.’
Concerns about the environment will also be pivotal in today’s election, with 57 per cent of Danes agreeing that the next government should prioritise climate change, according to a Gallup poll published in February.
For those aged between 18 and 35, the figure was 69 percent.
‘Many voters want change. In particular, the ‘millennials’, who can vote for the first time,’ said Flemming Juul Christiansen, a political scientist at Roskilde University.
Gustaf Lindegaard who is voting for the first time, said: ‘I really think global warming is the most important issue.’
Denmark’s Socialist People’s Party, heavily focused on environmental issues, is also expected to see a surge in its numbers, with opinion polls suggesting it could take 8.3 percent of votes, almost double its 2015 score.
If the Social Democrats emerge victorious, they intend to form a minority government – common in Denmark’s proportional representation system – relying on the support of the left or the right on a case-by-case basis to pass legislation.
As Denmark enjoys robust growth, almost full employment and strong public finances, the party has focused its campaign on climate issues and the defence of the welfare state, promising to reverse budget cuts to education and healthcare.
Analysts believe the Social Democrats would likely collaborate with the right on immigration and the left on other matters in the Scandinavian country, which is a member of the European Union but not the eurozone.
However, with a splintered political landscape featuring an abundance of political parties, the party could also find it necessary to forge long-term alliances to ensure stability.
The Danish People’s Party’s slide has in part benefitted the Social Democrats, but it also coincides with the emergence of two more extreme far-right parties, New Right and the anti-Muslim Hard Line.
And though the Liberal Party is expected to lose its grip on power, its performance is projected to match that of the 2015 election.
The Danish parliament, the Folketing, has 179 seats, four of which represent the autonomous territories of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which have two seats each.
To be eligible for a seat, a party must win at least two percent of votes.
Voter turnout is traditionally high in Denmark. In 2015, 85.9 percent of voters cast their ballots.
Polls will be open from 8am to 8pm local time, with some 4.2 million people eligible to vote.