Denmark’s centre-left Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen secured the narrowest of majorities in the country’s parliamentary elections but will struggle to form a viable governing coalition.
Frederiksen’s left-wing bloc won 28% of the vote and exactly the 90 seats needed for a majority, thanks to three mandates from Greenland and the Faroe Islands, after a very close election on Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday morning, Frederiksen reiterated his campaign pledge to try to form a centrist coalition between left and right parties and said his current government would step down.
“The Social Democrats went to the polls to form a broad government. If the majority of the parties designate me [as prime minister] I’ll see if it’s doable. Because that’s what’s good for Denmark,” Frederiksen said after his Social Democrats achieved their best election results in two decades.
The result is a big win for Frederiksen, who was forced to call a snap election after her government’s botched slaughter of 17 million mink last year.
Frederiksen, who is widely considered Denmark’s most powerful prime minister in history, highlighted his decisive response to the Covid-19 pandemic during the campaign and argued the Scandinavian country needs a pair of hands sure to lead it through a cost-of-living crisis and heightened tensions with Russia in the Baltic Sea.
Danish politics so far has stuck strictly to separate left and right blocs that have taken turns in governing.
But Frederiksen and his predecessor Lars Løkke Rasmussen said they would like to see a centrist government involving the main left and right parties to minimize the influence of smaller parties, especially those from the extremes.
Rasmussen’s Party of Moderates, founded just six months ago, became the third-largest group in parliament, with 16 seats, and said it could support a left-wing or right-wing government.
Former Social Democrat Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told the Financial Times: “It could be a new way of doing things. We have never talked so much about this happy medium and the search for compromise between the two. This is a very interesting evening in Danish politics.
Rasmussen said Wednesday that Frederiksen should be given the first chance to form a government. Jakob Engel-Schmidt, political leader of the Moderates, told the FT his party wanted a government with left and right parties.
“With the security situation in Europe, the energy crisis, the inflation crisis, we think politicians have to come together and do some reforms that take care of the welfare state for the future,” he said. he adds.
But Frederiksen will face a tricky negotiating task. Several of the smaller left parties want her to form a pure leftist government rather than include moderates or centre-right parties.
As many as 14 parties applied to enter parliament and 12 won seats – with four other groups likely to come from the Faroe Islands and Greenland – leading to one of the most fragmented political landscapes in Europe.
Frederiksen moved his Social Democrats sharply to the right on issues such as migration ahead of previous elections, causing support for the populist Danish People’s Party to collapse.
The second most popular party in 2015, when one in five Danes backed it, the Danish People’s Party passed the 2% threshold needed to enter parliament on Tuesday, its worst result.
The main right-wing Liberals, Rasmussen’s former party, also had their worst result in 34 years, with around 13%.
. prime minister centre-left denmark gets a short majority