Denmark’s Election Result Reflects European Trend

Copenhagen Denmark
Skyline of Copenhagen, Denmark (iStock/Spooh)

The results from last week’s Danish elections were in some ways emblematic of a European trend: parties that clearly appealed to the “winners” and “losers” of globalization won while almost all the others lost.

Denmark bucked the trend in one way: the ruling Social Democrats did not lose seats. They gained two. But it was not enough to keep Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and her left-wing coalition in power.

For months, polls had shown the Social Democrats bleeding support to the far left as well as the nationalist Danish People’s Party. A well-run campaign staved off defeat, but only because Thorning-Schmidt effectively cannibalized her coalition partners. Both the Radikale Venstre and the far-left Socialists — who left the government a year early — lost more than half their seats each. Read more “Denmark’s Election Result Reflects European Trend”

Bittersweet Victory for Denmark’s Right-Wing Bloc

Danish parliament Copenhagen
Christiansborg Palace, seat of the Danish parliament, in Copenhagen (Shutterstock)

Denmark’s right-wing parties eked out a one-seat majority in Thursday’s election, forcing the prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, to resign.

But the victory was bittersweet for liberal party leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen. His Venstre lost thirteen seats and was beaten into third place by the nationalist Danish People’s Party, which won 37 seats with 21 percent of the votes. Read more “Bittersweet Victory for Denmark’s Right-Wing Bloc”

Islanders Kingmakers in Danish Parliament

Danish parliament Copenhagen
Windows of the Christiansborg Palace, seat of the Danish parliament, in Copenhagen (iStock/Carsten Brandt)

Exit polls showed Denmark’s left- and right-wing blocs tied on Thursday night and suggested that deputies from the Faroe Islands and Greenland could be kingmakers in the Nordic country’s next parliament.

The poll, shown on TV2, gave Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s coalition 87 seats against 88 for the right-wing opposition.

Such an outcome would hand the balance of power in Denmark’s 179-seat unicameral Folketing to the four representatives of the autonomous Faroe Islands and Greenland. The latter have traditionally aligned with the left while the Faroese tend to split their two seats between the blocs. Read more “Islanders Kingmakers in Danish Parliament”

Denmark’s Left-Wing Coalition Could Stay in Power

When Denmark’s Helle Thorning-Schmidt called early elections last month, her left-wing coalition looked almost certain to lose power. Now promising growth forecasts and persistent doubts about the opposition leader’s credibility have given her a chance at reelection.

Polls released earlier this week put the prime minister’s Social Democrats and their supporters ahead of the right-wing bloc for the first time since 2011.

At their worst point, the ruling center-left coalition trailed the right by 17 percentage points. Now it is slightly ahead or at least neck and neck.

The liberals, still the biggest party on the right, have come down from a 25-percent high in April to around 20 percent support this week.

The nationalist Danish People’s Party has consistently polled just under 20 percent. It is likely to become the third largest party and would support another liberal-led government. Read more “Denmark’s Left-Wing Coalition Could Stay in Power”

Social Democrats Likely to Lose Election in Denmark

Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt called early elections on Wednesday, hoping to shore up support for her left-wing coalition. Opinion polls suggest the opposition liberals, supported by the conservatives and nationalist Danish People’s Party, are more likely to come back to power next month.

Thorning-Schmidt, a Social Democrat, had until September to call elections but said on Wednesday it was the “right time” to ask voters if they wanted to stay the course.

Denmark’s first woman prime minister argued that she had led the country of 5.6 million out of an economic crisis with “solidarity.” Read more “Social Democrats Likely to Lose Election in Denmark”

Shooting at Copenhagen Free Speech Meeting, One Killed

One person was killed and three police officers wounded in a shooting in Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, on Saturday at a meeting attended by the Swedish artist Lars Vilks.

Vilks, who was unharmed, stirred controversy in 2007 when he published drawings that depicted the Muslim Prophet Muhammad as a dog. He has received numerous death threats and lived under constant protection since 2010.

Danish police said they thought the suspect might have fled by train. A car the shooter first used to flee the crime scene was found abandoned.

Police also said the injuries their three officers sustained were not critical. Read more “Shooting at Copenhagen Free Speech Meeting, One Killed”

Danish Energy Sale to Goldman Sachs Meets Resistance

Years of conservative rule ended in Denmark with the 2011 election of Social Democratic Party leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt, whose coalition also included the Social Liberal Party and Socialist People’s Party. Two years later, the Socialist People’s Party left the coalition over the decision to sell 18 percent of DONG Energy, the nation’s largest energy company, to investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Finance minister Bjarne Corydon backed the decision, arguing that the move makes green energy a financially sustainable option, while former Social Democrat premier Poul Nyrup Rasmussen opposed the sale, calling Goldman a “shady partner.”

Protesters threw the image of a vampire squid over the statue of a former king, a nod to Matt Taibbi’s remark in Rolling Stone magazine that Goldman was a “great vampire squid” feeding on cash instead of blood. Read more “Danish Energy Sale to Goldman Sachs Meets Resistance”

Britain, Denmark Join Coalition Against Islamic State

Denmark and the United Kingdom joined an international coalition against Islamic State militants on Friday but like Belgium and the Netherlands, which announced they would send F-16 fighter jets to support the air campaign a day earlier, the NATO countries stopped short of participating in attacks on Syria.

Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told a news conference in Copenhagen her country would contribute seven F-16s to the military effort against the radical Islamist group that controls an arc of territory from Aleppo in Syria to near the western edge of Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.

Britain’s parliament was expected to approve Prime Minister David Cameron’s request for military action in Iraq later in the day. Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, told the BBC six Tornado jets will be deployed to Iraq. Cameron assured lawmakers no British troops would be involved in a combat role but said soldiers were needed to guide airstrikes and possibly train Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

The opposition Labour Party, which blocked British military intervention in Syria last year, hesitated to back strikes outside Iraq even as the Islamic State militants have effectively eradicated the border between the two Middle Eastern countries that was drawn up by British and French imperialists a century ago. Read more “Britain, Denmark Join Coalition Against Islamic State”

Nordic Premiers Could Become European Council President

European leaders on Friday pushed through Jean-Claude Juncker’s nomination to head the next European Commission while the prime ministers of Denmark and Finland looked likely candidates to chair their own council.

Juncker’s nomination, which is almost certain to be approved by the European Parliament, came over the strong objections of Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, and his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orbán, who fear the former premier of Luxembourg will advocate deeper political integration in the European Union as the head of its executive arm at the expense of expanding the single market, liberating trade with nations outside Europe and giving member states the flexibility to opt out of specific policies.

Juncker, who previously also chaired the council of eurozone finance ministers, had claimed the commission presidency after his European People’s Party won a plurality of the seats in the European Parliament in last month’s elections.

His appointment confirms the views of British Euroskeptics who believe the European Union is beyond reform and the island nation would be better off outside the bloc. Read more “Nordic Premiers Could Become European Council President”