‘Advance Voting’ has already opened for citizens of Denmark with a late surge for the right wing coalition set to unseat Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s Social Democrat ‘Red’ coalition. The shift in voter sentiment has been sparked by immigration concern as it trumps social welfare as the main narrative.
Although the red coalition enjoyed an early lead over the blue bloc this year, the terrorist attack against a freedom of expression event and a Synagogue perpetrated by Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein has kept migration and national security the top issue. Although the main right wing party Venestre performs well on these issues, the strong anti-migration and Euro-sceptic rhetoric of the Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkparti, DF) has made this election their own as they are propelled from a distant third in 2011 to just a fraction of a per cent from second place.
If DF could pick up just a little more support before polls close on Sunday, Denmark could be left in a position where its two largest parties are both of the right – a remarkable outcome for what is often considered to be one of Europe’s more liberal nations.
TheLocal.dk remarks the focus on immigration has raised the ire of foreign observers looking in on the election, with centre-right party leader and former prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen being bombarded with critical questions by foreign journalists at a press conference on Monday. Accused that the debate on immigration in Denmark was almost racist in comparison to nearby Sweden, Rasmussen replied: “We have a very robust debate about these questions in Denmark.
“It is absolutely OK from my point of view to talk honestly about the situation. If you want to live in Denmark, you should contribute to Denmark and share our common values.
“It is important to make a distinction between refugees and immigrants”.
If the blue bloc prevails this week it could be good news for British prime minister David Cameron, who wants the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union. To achieve this, he needs to acheive treaty change within the continent – something left-wing leaders are opposed to. EuObserver notes the blue bloc would likely share Cameron’s ambitions – though not going as far as junior partner DF’s full desires – and would back him in renegotiation.
A document which lists the United Kingdom, the Dutch, Germany, Austira, and the Finns as potential allies to Denmark in EU reform states: “We stand behind Britain and other like-minded countries to ensure that the EU does not become a social union”.
Good news for Cameron, but the news will be disappointing to British Euro-sceptics who beleive no renegotiation with Europe will be enough. The document continues: “We will also ensure that Denmark is an active support for Britain in the work to get an agreement with the EU, which the British can support in a referendum later in 2017. The alternative is a possible British withdrawal from the EU, which none of us want”.