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Danish Election Shows Mixed Results

September 22, 2011

Last week, the political landscape of Denmark shifted, as the center-left returned to power under the country’s first female Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.  However, as the below chart shows, more of the Danish electorate did not actually vote for the Social Democrats than they did four ago.  The Social Democrats actually received fewer votes than in 2007 and lost a seat.  The Liberals faired only a little better, as they managed to pick up a seat.

As The Economist pointed out, this election marked the Social Democrats’ worst performance since 1903.  Instead, the election was actually determined by the smaller parties.  The Social Liberal Party and the Red-Green Alliance had the big increases, gaining 8 seats each.  However, the Liberals’ main ally, the Conservative People’s Party received the least amount of votes in at least the last 30 years and lost 10 seats.  In fact, as the second chart shows, parties other than the main four (and five since the Danish People’s Party entered parliament in 2001) did very well in last week’s election.

While the 2011 Danish election might give hope to the left across Europe, which has not seen electoral success in wake of the financial crisis, Danish politics might before increasingly complicated as the Social Democrats continue to lose their dominance and smaller parties are necessary to form coalitions.  In fact, three seats in the left’s four seat majority represent Greenland and the Faroe Islands (both of which enjoy a large amount of autonomy).  As a result, the winners of this election are less clear than it appears in the headlines.

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