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Denmark: Ruling Center-left bloc wins razor-thin majority

November 2, 2022

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen's existing government remains the strongest force after the early elections. However, Frederiksen tended her resignation to the Danish monarch in an effort to build a stronger coalition.

Denmark's Prime Minister and head of the the Social Democratic Party Mette Frederiksen wipes a tear from her eye before giving a speech during the election night in Christiansborg, Copenhagen 2 November 2022.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen hailed the result for her party individually, but left her options open in terms of what kind of government she would seek to formImage: Ritzau Scanpix/REUTERS

Voters in Greenland on Wednesday gave Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen the last two seats necessary for the center-left bloc to win Denmark's general election.

Two left-leaning groups, Siumut and Inuit Ataqatigiit, bagged 37.6% and 24.6% of the votes, respectively in Greenland. That gave Frederiksen's red bloc the required 90-seat majority needed to stay at the helm after a tight election.

Center-left Social Democrat Frederiksen resigned later in an effort to form a new government with broader support across the political divide. The move was something she had raised before the election.

"I am so thrilled and proud. We have secured the best election result in 20 years,'' Frederiksen told supporters early Wednesday in Copenhagen.

"It is also clear there is no longer a majority behind the government in its current form," she said, explaining her reasons for resigning to explore future coalition options. 

While most voting took place on Tuesday, voters in the Faeroe Islands, which also have two seats, went to the ballot box on Monday because of a public holiday. Those seats went to a center-left affiliate of the Social Democrats and a sister party of the center-right Venstre.

 A cyclist passes by election campaign posters in Copenhagen, Denmark, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, ahead of the general elections on Nov. 1, 2022
14 parties competed, 12 won enough votes to claim seats in the chamberImage: Sergei Grits/AP Photo/picture alliance

Venstre suffers major losses, Rasmussen's new Moderates emerge

Denmark's complicated political landscape will include 12 parties in the new parliament. 

Frederiksen's Social Democrats won at least 50 seats, a gain, making them the largest party once more. 

The second force in Danish politics, the conservative-liberal Venstre party, suffered major losses — dropping to 23 seats from 43. Its leader Jacob Ellemann-Jensen said the poor showing was "first and foremost my responsibility."

Many Venstre seats were picked up by the new party formed by ex-Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, a former leader of Venstre. Rasmussen's party, called Moderates, grabbed 16 seats. 

Rasmussen was seen in particular as a potential kingmaker as his party currently sits outside of the two loose alliances of left-leaning and right-leaning parties, known as the red and blue blocs. 

The 58-year-old told supporters after the vote that he also wanted Frederiksen to try to set up a government, but said he would not yet refer to her "as prime minister." 

"I know for sure that Denmark needs a new government," he told supporters in Copenhagen. "Who is going to sit at the end of the table we do not know." 

Other Venstre voters appeared to be migrating to more openly anti-immigration parties. 

They include the Denmark Democrats, founded by former hard-line Immigration Minister Inger Stojberg earlier this year. The new party claimed 14 seats, making it the fifth power behind the Green Left with 15. 

Voting triggered by 'mink crisis'

The election was sparked by the "mink crisis," which has embroiled Denmark since a government decision in November 2020 to cull the country's roughly 15 million minks because of fears about a mutated strain of COVID-19.

A court determined the decision was illegal in July, and a party supporting the Social Democrats threatened to topple the government unless fresh elections were held. 

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was also seeking a broader and more stable mandate for her efforts to combat soaring inflation.

More than 4 million Danes were eligible to choose among 14 parties. 

The campaign has been dominated by domestic themes that range from tax cuts to a need to hire more nurses. Financial support for Danes amid rising inflation and soaring energy prices because of Russia's war in Ukraine were also among key election issues.

msh, ar/zc (AFP, AP, Reuters)