Local Elections 101

It’s November, so it’s elections time! Here in Denmark, there is a smorgasbord of parties to choose from.

And apparently, residents can vote in the local elections, although I’m not sure if there are requirements on how long you have to have been a resident. I still need to look into the details, but there is a chance that I might be able to vote in this year’s elections!

Since there are so many parties to choose from, I’ve been browsing through their websites and translating their bullet points with the help of Google translate.

[Please note that the parties listed below are just a sample of all the parties running. These ones are just the ones whose election posters are plastered all over one of the arterial roads close to where we live. Seems that these parties are represented in our municipality.]

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Socialdemokratiet (Social Democrats) – election symbol A – a staple of the Danish government, Social Democrats hold the most seats in the parliament (47 out of 179) and are responsible for the Danish welfare system (which, unlike in the US, is something that Denmark is very proud of). There was a time when Social Democrats were untouchable, but times change. They stand for: boosting the public sector, free and equal access to education, more equal distribution of wealth, creating more green jobs, more funding for healthcare, more funding for schools (especially strengthening vocational schools) and daycare, no outsourcing of public institutions to private companies, more affordable housing, pro-EU (but tackling welfare-tourism), integration of refugees, tough stand on youth in danger of becoming radicalized, more money for defense.

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Radicale Venstre (Radical Left or Social Liberal Party) – election symbol B – seems mostly focused on social issues, such as gender equality, global community (taking responsibility as a wealthy nation for other nations not as fortunate), pro-EU. But I wouldn’t call them “radical.” Many of their policies still look like a work in progress.

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Konservative Folkeparti (Conservative People’s Party) – election symbol C – investment in defense, lower taxes, more police, more business. Refugee policy reform, which includes lowering the number of refugees, but also helping those who end up in Denmark. At the same time, they also support green energy, strong environmental protections, support for working families, and investment in education. I’d call them center-right.

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Nye Borgerlinge (New Citizenship) – election symbol D – something about preserving Christian values, stopping immigration and getting Denmark out of EU. Add to that loosening of environmental protections, lowering taxes, privatizing nursing homes, phasing out public support for alternative energy, privatizing public transportation, building more roads, getting rid of the car and fuel tax, raising the defense budget to 2% of the GDP, closing job centers, more police, smaller public sector, more business. Maybe not as controversial as the Danish People’s Party (see below below), but still very right wing.

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Socialistisk Folkeparti (Socialist People’s Party) – election symbol F – Supports solid safety net, with full benefits during unemployment and free education, state-sponsored job creation, strong environmental protections, focus on crime prevention, same-sex unions, strong support for integration of immigrants, support for schools – especially vocational training, pro-EU, support for humanitarian efforts abroad, lukewarm on the military. I’m having a hard time distinguishing SF’s policy from the Social Democrats’, except maybe for the support for the military.

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Liberal Alliance – election symbol I – Liberal in Denmark doesn’t mean what you might think it means. Liberal basically means they’re all for fewer rules, lower taxes, pro-let’s give big business the freedom to ‘self-regulate.’ Their immigration policy is reasonable, but they’re mostly about the business.

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Dansk Folkeparti (Danish People’s Party) – election symbol O – Don’t get distracted by the daisy on their election posters. Danish People’s Party is considered the most radical right-wing (I’d say populist) party represented in the Danish parliament. The most important issue on their agenda appears to be anti-multiculturalism. DF advocates for any refugees already accepted in Denmark to return home. The party’s leader once declared DF an anti-Muslim party. Okay with Denmark staying in EU, but with conditions. Tough on crime, advocating longer and harsher sentences for offenders. Their right-wing rhetoric is counterbalanced with talk of supporting the elderly, funding free healthcare and support for animal rights. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for animal rights, but no, I still won’t be voting for DF.

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Venstre (Left) – election symbol V – Although called “Left”, this party is anything but that. Venstre is considered to be on the right of the political spectrum, but call themselves “Left” because of their economic liberalism (presumably not because they want to confuse people). Venstre wants lower taxes and more privatization. Their rhetoric is palatable, with proclamations of prosperity that follows privatization. The bright orange V might be helping too because today Venstre holds many seats in the parliament  (34 out of 179 seats; which is a lot considering how many parties there are) and the Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, is from the Venstre party. (As with so many of these parties, I’m not sure how they differ from Liberal Alliance)

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Alternativet (The Alternative) – election symbol Å – For once the name corresponds to the ideology. The Alternative is a progressive party with alternative – outside of the box – solutions. They focus on sustainability, social progress, and are the only party to even mention the existence of Trump. They suggest Denmark distancing itself from the US and its self-serving policies.

In conclusion… Isn’t it refreshing not to see only old white men on election posters?! Left or right, Danish politics is full of women and young people.

 

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