Denmark’s Social Democrats are on course to remain the biggest party in the country after winning Tuesday’s election, but incumbent Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s political survival depends on a new centrist party.
An initial exit poll by public broadcaster DR suggests the Social Democrats secured 23.1 percent of the vote, which would earn them 42 of the 179 seats in parliament. This put them ahead of the Liberal Party of Jakob Ellemann-Jensen on 13.5 percent of the vote, or 24 seats.
But in a political landscape split between 14 parties, both the left-leaning “red bloc,” which secured 85 seats, and the rival right-wing “blue bloc,” on 73 seats, fell short of the 90 seats needed for a majority in the 179-seat parliament. The remaining seats went to unaligned parties.
The election was triggered by a scandal about a government-mandated mink cull during the coronavirus pandemic, followed by an uncharacteristically exciting and chaotic campaign that at times seemed to foreshadow the twists and turns of the latest season of the popular TV political drama “Borgen.”
If confirmed, the results mean Frederiksen will need the support of former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and his newly formed Moderate party, which secured 9.3 percent of the vote, or 17 seats.
Rasmussen has not said he will back either bloc, putting the former prime minister in the position of kingmaker during the upcoming negotiations.
He used that position during the campaign to call for a broad coalition of more moderate parties from both the red and blue blocs, a move that could upset the nation’s post-war political order. Some have even suggested he could use his post-election influence to hold out for a senior role or even the prime minister position.
But Rasmussen, who previously served as prime minister from 2009 to 2011 and again from 2015 to 2019 for Denmark’s Liberal party, said he does not envision becoming prime minister a third time. “That’s not in my mind,” he said Tuesday morning after casting his vote.