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Historic voter turnout in Denmark for the 2019 EU Parliament Election

28.05.2019  19:18
The record-turnout at the election resulted in an important win for the government party Venstre and Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen ahead of the general election on June 5. Consequently, Venstre will send two new members to the European Parliament.

The five candidates who garnered more than 100,000 personal votes were Venstre’s Morten Løkkegaard and Søren Gade, Margrete Auken from SF, Jeppe Kofod from Socialdemokratiet and Peter Kofod from Dansk Folkeparti.

The election was especially marked by heated debates on television and intense marketing on social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. It was also salient in the sense that all Danish political parties introduced climate policies for the first time ever, which were scrutinised in the many debates and reached a pinnacle with the inspired climate activist Greta Thunberg speaking in front of Christiansborg the day before election day.

Red and blue
In an incredibly tight race, Venstre snagged four seats in the European Parliament, while Socialdemokratiet had to settle for second place and three seats despite exit polls initially favouring the party. While it was a close call for the centrists, the smaller, supporting parties struggled.

The majority of Venstre’s support came from Jutland and North Zealand, as municipalities in the Capital Region, Funen and Lolland voted almost exclusively for Socialdemokratiet. The voter activity in some of these areas looked overwhelmingly different from one another. In the municipalities of Rudersdal and Allerød, 78.46 percent of all eligible citizens voted, whereas less than 55 percent voted on the island of Lolland.

Caught off balance
Liberal Alliance, Alternativet and Folkebevægelsen mod EU (People’s Movement against the EU) did not win any seats in the European Parliament. Due to an alliance between Alternativet and Radikale, all of the former’s otherwise fruitless votes were allocated to the latter’s reserve, propelling the Radikale to receive an extra seat in the European Parliament.

Yet the biggest surprise of the election might have been the diminution of Dansk Folkeparti. The right-wing populist and anti-immigration party suffered a tremendous blow, getting less than 11 percent of the overall vote and therefore losing three of their seats in Brussels.

The result is particularly gripping as DF won the election in 2014. Its lead candidate five years ago was Morten Messerschmidt, whose anti-fraud policies secured him more personal votes than any other Danish candidate. Wryly enough, Messerschmidt has since been accused of misusing EU funds and was in 2016 ordered by the European Parliament to pay back more than 400,000 euros, which he had allegedly spent on political campaigning.

Eurosceptic and populist parties triumph abroad
A third of the seats won in the 2019 European Parliament election will reportedly go to Eurosceptic parties. The surge of right-wing parties who enjoyed favourable results include Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, Matteo Salvini’s Lega Nord in Italy and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, giving populist parties across Europe massive leverage.

Despite the results in other European countries, the election proved there is little latitude for Euroscepticism in Denmark. Folkebevægelsen mod EU is left out after 40 years in the European Parliament.  

Nevertheless, another Danish Eurosceptic party managed to win enough votes to attain a seat in their first European Parliament election ever. Since its inception in 1989, Enhedslisten had never previously put forward its own name on the ballot sheet in the European Parliament elections, instead always preferring to support Folkebevægelsen mod EU, which makes its victory this year bittersweet.

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