"We had the best election result in 20 years," said Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen happily when the Danes' votes were counted on Wednesday night. Their Social Democrats were by far the strongest with 27 percent. After hours of neck-and-neck races with the right-wing bloc, the center-left coalition led by Frederiksen's party managed to secure a razor-thin majority in parliament.
However, it is not yet clear whether it will ultimately be a great victory for Frederiksen's government. The prime minister went into the election with the goal of forming a center coalition. Her priority is not just working with red bloc parties, she said. Frederiksen named two parties on the left, the Social Liberals and the Socialist People's Party, as possible government partners, and on the right, the Conservatives and the Liberals.
Despite her election victory, the Prime Minister, who has been in office since 2019, initially submitted her resignation in order to create the conditions for such a constellation, which is unusual in Denmark. The move is intended to pave the way for a new so-called round of queens, which will determine which party leader has the best chance of successfully forming a government. "It is clear that there is no longer a majority behind the government in its current form," said Frederiksen. However, it is difficult to predict whether their wish for a broad party alliance will be fulfilled.
In any case, the strong result of the Social Democrats in this election was not surprising. Prime Minister Frederiksen had to call for early elections under political pressure and could not be sure whether she would ultimately have enough allies to defend her office. Under her leadership, however, the Social Democrats have managed in recent years to turn a struggling party into the dominant force in the country. The now 44-year-old pushed the Socialdemokraterne with a rigorous course on integration and migration to the right and at the same time shifted the focus of social policy to the left.
With this line, she was able to assert herself as the strongest force in the 2019 election and snatch decisive votes from the right-wing Danish People's Party, which today only just gets above the 2 percent hurdle in parliament. The governing Social Democrats have been keeping the issue of migration occupied for years, and alongside the fight against inflation, as well as climate issues and health policy, it was practically lost in this election campaign.
This voting was particularly tense because of three surprise candidates who had attracted a lot of attention in the run-up to the election. Firstly, the moderates founded in June by ex-prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who were able to secure nine percent of the votes, then the also new right-wing Danish Democrats led by ex-integration minister Inger Stojberg, and the liberal alliance of "Tiktok-König" Alex Vanopslagh.
The big losers of the election are the Liberals under their boss Jakob Ellemann-Jensen. Although still in second place, his party lost around ten percentage points compared to 2019. The defeat comes as little as a surprise, however, as the strong result of the Social Democrats. Vanopslagh was once Liberal Party Vice President Rasmussen, her party leader. Many voters had followed the top politicians to their new parties. Former Prime Minister Rasmussen almost became a kingmaker.
Because according to the first forecasts in the evening, there was still a tie between the left-wing alliance and the blue block of liberals, conservatives and right-wing populists. Rasmussen, who kept all options open in the run-up to the election, would have become the decisive factor had the tide not turned in favor of the red bloc in the end.
Nevertheless, long talks with Frederiksen are likely to come to the ex-government leader, because she needs parties willing to cooperate beyond the previous centre-left alliance for her desired majority government. "But your preferred candidates from the bourgeois camp will never cooperate with the Social Democrats," says political scientist and election expert Rune Stubager from Aarhus University to WELT. In fact, shortly before the election, the conservatives and the liberals emphasized that there would be no partnership with the social democrats; the differences, especially in economic and social policy, are too great for that.
Election expert Stubager does not expect Rasmussen to form an alliance with Frederiksen, he would have to make too many compromises for that. “Many of his constituents are from the right. If Rasmussen cooperates, many would blame him for selling out their conservative values. He will hardly take that risk, Frederiksen knows that too.”
The head of government will therefore negotiate more for appearances with the moderates, along the lines of: "Look, I really tried to set up a broad alliance," he suspects. Ultimately, the expert assumes, Frederiksen will have to involve at least one other party from the left in order to forge a new alliance that is suitable for government. However, a major point of contention then seems programmed: Frederiksen's integration and migration policy.