Denmark’s Prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen scored a historic victory in today’s national elections. In spite of opinion polls speaking to the contrary the coalition that has governed Denmark for the last six years will be able to continue at the helm of power.
Mr. Rasmussen is the fist European head of government who has been reelected twice after having supported the war in Iraq and supplying Danish troops to the coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Mr. Rasmussen is also the first leader of his conservative party (this isn’t a conservative party in the American sense. Mr. Rasmussen’s party is supporting a welfare state that Bill Clinton never would have signed on for) to be reelected twice as Prime minister, and his conservative party has turned out to be the biggest party in three national elections in a row, i.e. 2001, 2005 and now in 2007. This is also a historical achievment. It never happenend before.
Though the coalition behind the government is in place, Mr. Rasmussen on election night reached out to all parties supporting his candidacy as Prime minister. He invited them to take part in negotiations in order to work out a political platform for the new government.
This means that Naser Khader, leader of the new party New Alliance and a democratic Muslim, also will get a seat at the negotiating table, though his influence with just five seats will be limited. New Alliance has been advocating more laxed policies for immigrants and asylum seekers. But it doesn’t look as if he will get his way. On the other hand his votes may be instrumental for much needed reforms of the welfare state.
The Danish People’s party that over the last ten years has been demonized as racist by the left once again improved its standing, and they did so against all odds. They insist on keeping strict immigration policies, and have been reluctant to support lower taxes, and it is now up to the Prime minister to find out if the Danish People’s party and New Alliance can be part of the same coalition.
Another big winner was the Socialist party that almost doubled their number of seats in parliament. They did so due to the successful economy, one of the best performing in Europe with growth rates around 3-4 pct. The good economy has increased political pressure for social benefits and welfare, and the socialists have gone all the way. Almost any demand from any group has elicited support from the Socialists, so it is fair to say that they have been cashing in on the success of a conservative government.
The Social Democrats, the founding fathers of the welfare state, have definitively lost their monopoly as the sole guardian of the welfare. In the nineties the Social Democrats usually would get around 35 pct. of the votes, but now they have been permanently reduced, and I doubt that they ever again will cross the limit of 30 pct. Today they received 25 pct., which is a historical low figure. Ten years ago the party leader would have been forced out of office after an election result like this, but today the Social Democrats’s leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt is being perceived as successful.
Finally, it seems that the islamist Asmaa Abdol-Hamid didn’t receive enough votes to get a seat in parliament, though her party of the extreme left did pass the threshold of 2 pct., but they lost 2 seats. She may, though, get a seat if she receives more than 10.000 personal votes. On election night Asmaa Abdol-Hamid indicated that she may leave politics, if this doesn’t materialize, so this time around it looks like Denmark will not have to deal with a Muslim member of parliament wearing the veil while addressing the nation.