The centre-right opposition has beaten the centre-left governing coalition of Helle Thorning-Schmidt in the Danish elections, marking a change of direction for Danish politics as the new centre-right coalition of former Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen takes power.
With the right-wing and anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DPP) now the second largest party in the Danish parliament, Denmark looks set to undergo a change in political direction, both internally and abroad. The leader of the party, Kristen Thulesen Dahl, could still make a bid to become Prime Minister, despite having said previously that he would prefer his party not to be in government. He previously told the Danish Politiken website that he preferred ‘the little free bird role, which can make the Danish People’s Party come closer to ‘getting our policy through in the real world than you think’.
In his victory speech, Rasmussen described ‘control of the flow of refugees’ as one of his priorities. Some observers have linked the increasing popularity of the DPP to an increase in Euroscepticism and anti-immigration sentiment in Europe, pointing out the fact that the majority of the DPP’s new supporters gained before the recent election voted for more moderate parties in the previous election of 2011.
Intense coalition talks have now begun to decide the formation of the next cabinet. Negotiations betweeen the governing parties are now reported to be in deadlock as the DPP refuses to drop demands for an increase in state spending, despite Rasmussen’s own Liberal Party calling for a freeze in public spending. In comments to reporters at the latest round of coalition talks Thulesen Dahl revealed that he believed the party would not gain influence by entering government, and that sufficient progress had not been made in the talks so far:
I still believe that the Danish People’s Party will not get more influence by entering government. As long as we are still negotiating, we will be at more meetings. We are patient and we will keep our cool. But it remains that the foundation is not good enough for us to enter government.
Although the party of Helle Thorning-Schmidt was the biggest overall and won at least 26% of the vote (compared to her coalition allies didn’t gain as many votes as the opposition – meaning that her party could not form a government. She commented that she was proud her Social Democratic Party had gained the largest share of the vote overall – remarking that she had ‘lost at the finish line’.
As for the new government, if sufficient progress is not made in coalition talks it is likely that the DPP will not be part of government, meaning that Rasmussen’s party would have to rely on another one of its coalition allies (significantly smaller than the DPP) to form a minority government.