The 2019 Election: Campaign and Predictions

This post has only one merit: I’ll consult it on Thursday (or Wednesday evening) to see where I was wrong in my expectations.

Major themes of the election campaign

The 2019 campaign has been weird in many ways. First of all, the electoral campaign began de facto with the agreement over the 2019 budget. That is nearly six months of campaigning. The government tried to use the time to create a political momentum by entering agreements over health care, transport and infrastructure, immigration and, finally, early retirement. None of this yielded any benefits in opinion polls for the government side.

Second, the Social Democrats have played a game of reversing nearly all of its policies from the Thorning era and delaying policy announcements on controversial issues until after the election. The Social Democrats under Mette Frederiksen have designed themselves as the party of the Male Danish Blue-Collar Industrial Worker of the 1960s, but it is really hard to see how the party will meet the challenges of the 2020s.

Third, judging from analyses of voter movements, the Social Democrats appear to have taken over the role of the transit terminal of Danish politics. SD attracts voters from the Liberals and the Danish People’s Party, while losing voters to the other “Red” parties.

Fourth, during May the Liberals have been busy reversing their economic policies of the 2015-2019 term. Somehow voters are to believe that both Social Democrats and Liberals are completely transformed parties.

Fifth, the campaign was hijacked in the early stages by an excentric (to say the least) xenophobe, bringing immigration and integration back on the political agenda. Or maybe not: Perhaps the correct analysis is that some 10-20% of the electorate are highly motivated by anti-immigration and -integration policies, while the remaining 80-90% have other concerns.

Finally, it has been very hard to see how the parties have adressed health care and climate, which were on top of voters’ agenda, in the campaign.

Which results should we expect on Wednesday?

The easy one: The five parties of the Red bloc (Social Democrats, the Red-Green Alliance, the Socialist People’s Party, the Social Liberals and the Alternative) should win a majority of the votes and seats. I would expect the votes to be divided 50/50 between the Social Democrats and the other four parties.

The almost-as-easy one: The Danish People’s Party will suffer heavy losses and perhaps see its worst result since 2001. Nobody expected this six months ago.

The difficult one: Will Hard Line and New Bourgeois cancel each other out, leaving both parties below the 2% threshold, or will one or both parties enter parliament? Similarly, will the Christian Democrats benefit from voter disaffection with the Liberals and win a constituency seat in Western Jutland? We could have three new right-wing parties represented in parliament – or no new parties.

The others: Light losses for the Liberals, wins for the Conservatives, the Socialist Peoples’ Party and the Social Liberals and losses for Liberal Alliance and the Alternative.

Which government will we get?

Good question. The money are on Mette Frederiksen as the next prime minister. The Social Democrats want a single-party minority government, but the other “Red” parties will want to control the SD one way or the other – either by entering a formal coalition or by some kind of cooperation agreement.