Thorning-Schmidt, Rasmussen compete for Danish presidency

Denmark goes elections with tight race between centre-right bloc and left wing

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

After Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s early election announcement, Denmark is to vote on Thursday to elect members of the Folketing, the Danish parliament.

There have been 799 candidates competing each other to win a seat in 179-membered Folketing in Christiansborg Palace, known as Borgen.

According to the pre-election polls, the two main blocs the incumbent Thorning-Schmidt’s left wing and the opposition Lars Lokke Rasmussen’s centre right are to compete with each other  in a close race.

Denmark has been governed through a single chamber parliament since 1953. While 175 members of parliament has been from Denmark, there has been two additional members from Faroe Island and two more from Greenland in Folketing.

The country applied a 2 percent threshold rate for parties to be able to enter parliament.

According to the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten pre-election poll, Thorning-Schmidt’s right wing bloc received 49.9 percent vote rate, and Rasmussen’s center-left took 50.1 percent of the votes.

Although another survey from the broadsheet Politiken showed that the right bloc took 50.2 percent and centre-left stopped at 49.8 percent, the both polls showed that Denmark is to experience a tight race on Thursday.

The parties attitudes on welfare state and immigration issues are to effect the vote results.

Welfare state and immigration politics to set voting results

Although Thorning-Schmidt and her party Social Democrats have been criticised for cutting unemployment benefits and reducing student grants, the recovered economy of Denmark has been an advantage for her in the race.

Thorning-Schmidt said in a rally in Bornholm island that "in recent years Denmark has gone through a severe crisis, the worst crisis since the Second World War ... We were hit harder than other countries because the good times were used poorly."

"We are out of the crisis. Denmark is back on track," she added.

Social Democrats by giving immigrants permanent residence, and presenting them job opportunities are criticized by Danish population.

Currently, through changing attitude towards immigrants, Thorning-Schmidt also has gained more support from society.

Participating in a television debate Thorning-Schmidt said “We have to be able to keep up and that is why it has been important to tighten the rules.”

The opposition Kristian Thulesen Dahl’s Danish People’s Party (DF)  and Rasmussen’s Venstre (Denmark’s Liberal Party) by offering more social benefits for Danish workers and following an anti-immigrant stance have gathered more support from the population.

Rasmussen on Monday promised to "bring the asylum influx under control," if he wins the elections in a press conference.

“Almost 50 percent of the people in Denmark with a non-Western background are on certain kinds of public support. I think it's fair to say that in order to pave the way for better integration into our society we need to control the influx," he added.

Although there has been 10 parties to compete in the election, the race has been between former prime minister Rasmussen and incumbent Thorning-Schmidt.

Along with most of the world, Denmark experienced a financial crisis in 2008. After Thorning-Schmidt took office as Denmark’s first female prime minister in 2011 the country’s economy began to recover.

TRTWorld and agencies