COPENHAGEN, Denmark (CN) — Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called Wednesday for general elections in Denmark, an expected move from the leader of the Social Democratic Party only days ahead of a vote of no confidence against her.
Denmark's Parliament only reopened on Tuesday, but the no confidence vote has been in the works since May, driven by a loss of political faith in Frederiksen from her main supporters, the Danish Social Liberal Party, over the government's handling of its mink scandal.
Considered a leading global exporter of mink fur, producing an estimated 17 million furs per year, Denmark ordered that every hide be culled in fall 2020 because of a fear over a coronavirus mutation spreading from the animals to humans.
Support for the prime minister elected in 2019 has been receding since she received a reprimand from the government this summer. Frederiksen scheduled the election for Nov. 1 and has indicated she will campaign to form a grand coalition that would bring political rivals into the cabinet; it would be the first time Denmark would have a multiparty parliamentary system in over four decades.
In her opening speech to Parliament on Tuesday, Frederiksen touched on the various crises confronting Denmark's government, setting the tone perhaps for the upcoming campaign.
“First, a pandemic. Then war in Europe. Now an energy crisis. And black clouds over the economy. Soon, political lines will be drawn sharply," Frederiksen said. "We have different answers to the questions these times pose us."
The Denmark's government's security policy analysis group released a report just last month that said Russia's war in Ukraine has led to the formation of a new “iron curtain” in Europe. Coupled with the recent sabotages of the gas pipes Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 in the Baltic Sea, close to the Danish island Bornholm, national and European security have come into sharper relief.
With Danish citizens also confronting rising consumer prices and historically high inflation of just under 10%, they will be looking to politicians for solutions on how to pay for their electricity and heating bills over the coming winter.
Another theme seen as central to voters is making the public welfare sector more competitive. Applications for education in nursing, teaching, and social and health care assistants have been trending low, underscoring the need in these fields for higher salaries, better benefits and more flexibility.
Denmark has 14 political parties running for Parliament, which will begin a four-week tour the country now leading up to Election Day.
While there is little debate among them on the country's problems, solutions are varied. The red (social) wing touts aid packages for selected vulnerable groups, such as families and people on social benefits, and a general lifting of the welfare sector. In contrast, the blue (liberal/conservative) wing promises general tax reductions and better conditions for current and coming homeowners.
The political specialist media Altinget projects that left-wing parties Green Left and Red-Green Alliance will see an increased voter support, with fewer votes going to the smaller Green parties.
On the other side of the spectrum, the new party, Denmark Democrats, stands to gain around a tenth of the total votes. The party is spearheaded by Inger Støjberg, who underwent trial last year for her unlawful separations of asylum-seeking couples. The main vision of the Denmark Democrats is to reduce central regulation, ease life for residents in Denmark’s outlying and production-heavy areas, and tighten immigration laws.
Analysts are predicting a close race between the two wings. While Frederiksen appealed Wednesday for a broad government where both sides collaborate, even her main supporting party has threatened to back out if the government proceeds with a plan to establish a reception center for asylum seekers in Rwanda.
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