After narrow victory, the Danish PM is to form a broader government

After narrow victory, the Danish PM is to form a broader government


A day after her narrow election victory, Denmark’s Social Democrat Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen tendered her resignation on Wednesday to begin forming a new, broader government.

Accustomed to minority governments, the Social Democrats, the largest party in parliament with 50 out of 179 seats, now want to govern across the traditional left-right divide.

The prime minister presented her government’s resignation to “enter negotiations to form a broader government and that will probably take a while,” political scientist Rune Stubager, a professor at Aarhus University, told AFP.

Frederiksen’s left bloc, which includes five parties plus three seats from the autonomous regions of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, won a majority of 90 seats, compared to 73 for the right and extreme right and 16 for the centre.

The outgoing Prime Minister met Queen Margrethe at 11:00 (1000 GMT) to tender her resignation, which set the ball rolling for her to start negotiations with other party leaders on the composition of the new government.

Frederiksen, who led the Social Democrats to their best election result since 2001 with two seats and over 27 percent of the vote, is entering the negotiations from a position of strength.

– Broken dreams –

By the end of the vote count, it looked as if the left bloc would lose its majority, a scenario that would have made the newly formed centrist Moderate party the kingmaker.

But Frederiksen’s photo-finish win dashed the hopes of former two-time Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who had founded the Moderates just months earlier.

The party won more than nine percent of the vote and Lokke Rasmussen stressed that he wanted to be “the bridge” between left and right.

“The dream only lasted a few hours,” concluded the daily Jyllands-Posten.

“Now Mette can theoretically do without Lars Lokke,” the newspaper added.

Still, the moderates would “participate in these negotiations” and could even secure cabinet posts if they were “sufficiently willing to compromise,” Stubager said.

“But I don’t think they will do that because then they will face criticism from right-wing parties,” he said.

Frederiksen “can then switch to a plan B, which I think is more realistic” – a coalition government with various left-wing parties.

While her government was widely hailed for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, the election was ultimately triggered by the “mink crisis”.

The affair has embroiled Denmark since the government decided in November 2020 to kill the country’s 15 million mink amid fears of a mutated strain of the novel coronavirus.

The decision turned out to be illegal, and the Social Liberal party, which supported Frederiksen’s minority government, threatened to overthrow it unless it called snap elections to win back voters’ confidence.

The Social Liberals paid a price for the gamble, losing nine of their 16 seats.

– “Zero Refugees” –

With the razor-thin majority, the Social Democrats will continue to need the support of the Social Liberals to govern, and the party has made it clear it will not support another minority single-party government.

Broad consensus on Denmark’s restrictive migration policy largely left out the issue during the election campaign, but could revive in government negotiations.

The Social Democrat government advocates a “zero refugee” policy and is working to set up a center to house asylum seekers in Rwanda while their applications are being processed.

The Social Liberal Party opposes the plan.

“It will be very difficult for the Social Democrats to turn softly or to the left on immigration, because that was a very important point in their strategy over the last five or six years,” said Stubager.

“Giving that up would have dramatic consequences for her.”

Danish politics has been heavily influenced by the far right in recent decades, but three populist parties together won just 14.4 percent of the vote and are unlikely to play a key role in the upcoming negotiations.

The anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party, which was above 20 percent a few years ago, fell to 2.6 percent, its worst result since entering parliament in 1998.

A new party founded by former immigration minister Inger Stojberg, the Danish Democrats, instead won 8.1 percent, giving them 14 seats on a platform with less centralization, less influence from Europe and fewer immigrants.

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