The Danish Prime Minister facing the elections – POLITICO
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The writers of « Borgen » couldn’t have come up with a better plot.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is set to call a general election this week after she was politically blackmailed by a former ally for her role in the country’s failed 2020 mink slaughter.
Frederiksen, who leads a minority Social Democrat government, was due to announce a vote on Tuesday after the Social Liberal Party, one of the government’s three backing groups, threatened to withdraw its support.
In the end, the social-liberal party gave the prime minister an extra day, meaning that if Frederiksen chooses not to call an election on Wednesday, she would still have until Thursday before facing a vote of no confidence.
“Danish politics have always been very predictable. Now it’s crazy and fast,” said Noa Redington, a political commentator.
Once announced, the election will be just weeks away, and the outlook is not good for Frederiksen or his party, as the prime minister’s approval ratings have waned in recent months.
If his ruling party remains the most popular, his alliance with supporting parties could lose its majority, according to recent polls. This would mean that the opposition group, which is led by the Liberals and the Conservatives, would have the advantage. Even so, the vote will likely be close, given that the difference between the two camps lies within the margins of error in the polls.
Many have attributed Frederiksen’s poor polls to his role in an unprecedented cull of the country’s 17 million mink, which was sparked by fears of COVID-19 contamination and later found to be illegal.
The order to kill all infected and healthy mink has devastated the country’s fur industry, the largest in the EU. Danish farmers appeared on TV in tears over the loss of their livelihoods, as mass graves appeared in the countryside filled with slaughtered animals. Shortly after the slaughter, millions of mink were dug up again after some resurfaced because they had not been buried deep enough, prompting complaints from residents about possible health risks.
In July, a special committee concluded that the comments she made to justify the slaughter were « grossly misleading ». Although the policy itself broke the law, its decision was unintentional, the committee said. Although Frederiksen avoided an impeachment trial, the row hurt her position and she has slipped in the polls ever since.
Controversy also escalated after it emerged that Frederiksen’s text messages during the showdown decision had been automatically deleted, apparently for security reasons.
“When she took office in 2019, she made it clear that she was in charge of everything – from the COVID-19 lockdown to education reforms. But when it came to the mink scandal, voters were suddenly told it was definitely not his fault,” Redington said.
Redington added, however, that the success of the Social Democratic Party had already slipped for a few months before the scandal, due to its disconnect with urban voters and changing attitudes on climate issues, among others.
Some have criticized social liberals for forcing Denmark to hold elections amid an international crisis after last week’s attack on Nord Stream 1 and 2 off the Danish island of Bornholm.
But Social Liberal Party leader Sofie Carsten Nielsen hit back at the criticism, saying Denmark needed ‘an election so we can move on from campaigning’. Posters and large advertisements have dominated Danish streets for weeks.