In an election that turned on economic uncertainty and fierce debates over Muslim immigration, Danish voters just ousted their center-left government in a clear swing to the right that unexpectedly elevated an anti-MUSLIM immigrant, anti-EU party that had been on the margins of the country’s politics.
NY TIMES (h/t Maria J) Polls had predicted a close race, but as the night wore on, the far-right Danish People’s Party emerged in second place over all, raising questions about the role it could play in a new government and the country’s path in the coming four years.
The outcome took even senior members of the Danish People’s Party by surprise. “It’s gone beyond my wildest expectations,” Peter Skaarup, a senior lawmaker with the party told The Local, a Danish news outlet. “I know we often fare better in these elections than the polls suggest since people often aren’t willing to admit that they vote for the Danish People’s Party, but it really does look fantastic so far.”
The country remains shaken by a Feb. 14 shooting rampage in Copenhagen by the 22-year-old son of Palestinian immigrants at a free-speech event and outside a synagogue that left two people dead and five police officers wounded.
Denmark had consistently ranked among the world’s happiest nations, but the flow of MUSLIM immigrants ignited a backlash that has heightened nationalist sentiments, something that also unfolded with political upheaval in neighboring Finland — where the populist Finns Party joined the government — and to some extent in other European countries.
“(MUSLIM) Immigration has been a very key and decisive issue in this campaign,” Mr. Hansen said.
The party nearlyt doubled its backing since 2011, after promising Danes tougher immigration and asylum laws. The group is also skeptical toward Denmark’s membership in the European Union and has argued in favor of border controls to defy the single market’s free movement of labor.