Mette Frederiksen will lead a minority government as Denmark’s youngest ever prime minister.
The Social Democrats have returned to power in Denmark by sticking to the anti-immigration rhetoric that signalled them out as an outlier of the Scandinavian left. The 41-year old Frederiksen is sticking to this policy line, this time with the backing of three more left-leaning parties, that is, the Socialist People’s party, the Red Green Unity List and the centrist Social Liberals.
The Danish Social Democrats won 48 seats in a 179-seat parliament.
The political price for securing the support of her left-leaning partners is a compromise on immigration policy. The Social Democrat’s hardline policies were pioneered by Frederiksen’s predecessor, Helle Thorning Schmidt, and continued under the Venstre-led right-wing government led by Loekke Rasmussen.
Social Democrats campaigned in 2015 on the anti-immigration motto “If you come to Denmark, you must work” and during Schmidt’s premiership (2011-2015) they introduced a temporary asylum seeker residence permit that allows deportations to take place as soon as conditions improve in the home country, independently of the course of the asylum’s seekers course of life in Denmark. In 2014, she also took measures to obstruct family reunification.
Rasmussen’s government continued on the same track, questioning the Geneva Convention and also abandoning a UN quota system for asylum applications. In 2019, Rasmussen campaigned on a plan to create an island-detention center for all asylum applicants.
In 2019 the Social Democrats combined their “tough on immigration” stance with a promise to defend the welfare state – tackling child poverty – and moving faster on carbon emissions reduction. The result was the obliteration of the anti-immigration Danish People’s party that supported Mr Rasmussen’s administration. However, the support of left-wing parties in parliament is conditional. The left bloc combined can master 91 seats but it could prove unstable, particularly on immigration policy. Frederiksen’s partners have demanded that Denmark meets international asylum obligations and abandoning the island-detention plan.