Denmark is a country located in the region of Northern Europe. The bourgeois Venstre took power in 2015 after four years of social democratic rule. The June 2019 elections again led to a shift in power, when the Social Democrats’ Mette Fredriksen formed a minority government with the support of three left-wing parties. As in many other European countries, immigration and asylum policy has been an important political issue in recent years. The climate issue is also a priority for the government.
The attempts to agree on a government coalition within the bourgeois bloc after failing to secure a barely majority in the parliamentary elections in June 2015 failed. Instead, it ended with Venstres party leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen forming a minority government consisting of Venstre alone with 34 of 179 parliamentary members. The new government was thus forced to negotiate support for its proposals before every vote in the parliament, and political judges gave it little chance to end the term of office.
- Countryaah: Country facts and history of Denmark, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
The first action by the Venstre government was to reduce the financial support for refugees following pressure from the Danish People’s Party. This happened as a result of the influx of refugees into Denmark, as in the rest of Europe. By the summer of 2015, some 70,000 migrants had made their way to Denmark, many of them fleeing the ongoing civil war in Syria.
Tighter immigration policy
On January 4, 2016, Sweden introduced ID and passport control to Denmark with the aim of reducing the refugee flow into the country. The control mainly affected the more than 15,000 people who daily commute across the Sound between home and work. In response, Denmark introduced temporary random checks on travelers’ ID documents at the border with Germany. In May, the EU Commission granted an extension of the checks for a further six months. After that, border checks were extended at regular intervals until 2019. Border checks led to a drastic reduction in the number of refugees: In 2016, the number of asylum applications was just over 6,000 and in 2017 the number had been halved further.
As part of the government’s policy to reduce the flow of refugees to Denmark, in January 2016, the parliament also passed a series of laws that made it more difficult for asylum seekers. Broadly speaking, the changes to the law meant three things: it became more difficult to obtain a permanent residence permit, family associations would take longer and the police were given the right to seize valuables from asylum seekers when the value exceeds 10,000 Danish kronor (does not apply to items of affective value as wedding rings). That right was used for the first time in June 2016 when the police seized 79,600 Danish kroner from five Iranians who had been stopped at Kastrup with false passports and 129,600 Danish kroner.
Even the Social Democrats, who have moved towards a more restrictive view on immigration after Mette Frederiksen became new party leader in 2015, supported the controversial so-called jewelry law.
The left minority government was strengthened in November 2016 when the Liberal Alliance and the Conservative People’s Party after negotiations took place among the ministers. Thus, Denmark gained a tripartite government, which, however, still did not have the support of a majority in the parliament. Government reform could take place after Venstre promised to lower the marginal tax on the highest incomes by five percent at year-end.
At the end of 2018, a scandal erupted around the country’s largest bank, Danske Bank, after an independent investigation showed that bank accounts in Estonia were used for money laundering by a couple of hundred billion euros from Russian citizens. Legal proceedings were initiated by Danish prosecutors against the bank’s management.
The 2019 elections
Prior to the European Parliament elections in May 2019, support for the Danish People’s Party among the Danes had decreased. This was partly due to a scandal over the party’s use of EU funds.
In the EU elections, Venstre became the largest party with just over 23 percent of the vote, while the Danish People’s Party declined by more than 15 percentage points compared to the 2014 election to just over 10 percent of the vote.
The electoral movement ahead of the parliamentary elections on June 5, 2019 was a lot about how welfare could be improved in the country. But the climate issue was also important and some analysts felt that it was the one that was decisive for the election result. The Social Democrats became the largest party with just over a quarter of the vote, while Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s Venstre came second. Socialist People’s Party and Radical Venstre, which put the climate at the center, were the parties that grew the most, while the Danish People’s Party, which had a skeptical attitude to climate change, lost over half of its voters compared to the last election. The Danish People’s Party lost voters both to the Social Democrats and to two newly formed parties on the far right, the Stram Course and the New Citizens League. Only New Citizens entered the Parliament.
Experts said that the decline of the Danish People’s Party was due to the climate crisis and health care being higher on the agenda for voters than immigration policy, which has been the profile of the Danish People’s Party. But the party’s restrictive immigration policy still seems to live because it has been adopted by both the left and right parties. Not least, the Social Democracy is considered by researchers to have taken over the Danish People’s Party refugee and immigration policy. It was also expected to make it more difficult for the Social Democrats to bring the smaller parties to the left in a government. The Social Democrats’ party leader Mette Frederiksen’s plan was therefore to try to form a one-party government and seek support from the left or right in the parliament based on specific issues.
A social democratic minority government is formed
After almost three weeks of deliberations, the longest government negotiations since 1988, Frederiksen finally managed to form a minority government. With the help of the support parties in the center-left bloc, Socialist People’s Party, Radical Venstre and Enhedslisten, the government had the support of a majority of the members of the parliament. In exchange for their support, the three support parties managed to get through some of their demands in the government agreement concluded with the Frederiksen government.
The Social Democracy, which has opted for a continued strict immigration policy, joined the support parties by agreeing, among other things, to re-accept quota refugees and to scrap plans to place people who cannot be expelled on the isolated island of Lindholm outside South Zealand. On the other hand, border controls would exist and, according to Frederiksen, the focus would be to send immigrants home. One of the most important points in the government program was the climate issue, where it was decided that by 2030 greenhouse gas emissions would have been reduced by 70 percent compared with the levels in 1990. The government would also make some social initiatives, among other things to reduce poverty among children.
Read more about the events in the Calendar.
FACTS – POLITICS
Kingdom of Denmark
monarchy, unitary state
Head of State
Queen Margrethe II (1972–)
Head of government
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen (2019–)
Most important parties with mandates in the last election
Social Democracy 48, Left 43, Danish People’s Party 16, Radical Left 16, Socialist People’s Party 14, Unity List 13, Conservative People’s Party 12, Alternative 5, New Civil 4, Liberal Alliance 4 (2019)
Main parties with mandates in the second most recent elections
Social Democracy 47, Danish People’s Party 37, Left 34, Unity List 14, Liberal Alliance 13, Alternative 9, Radical Left 8, Socialist People’s Party 7, Conservative People’s Party 6 (2015)
84.5% in the general election (2019)
census by 2023
Reigning Left backs in fresh elections
The Venstre government party returns to the general election in the new election and stays in just over 26 percent of the vote, while the Danish People’s Party and the Conservative People’s Party retain their voting shares of just under 14 and just over 10 percent. The Social Democracy back to just over 25 percent, while the big electorate becomes the Socialist People’s Party, which more than doubles its voting share to 13 percent. The socially liberal Radical Venstre loses almost half its vote and stays at just over 5 percent. The party loses many votes to the newly formed New Alliance, which takes almost 3 percent.