Denmark’s ruling party loses ground in local polls amid mink cull probe

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Denmark’s ruling Social Democratic Party, popular for its early lockdowns in the coronavirus pandemic, lost support in Tuesday’s municipal elections, results show, as it faces a probe into its handling of an illegal mink cull last year.

The party, led by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, slipped 3.9 percentage points in support in elections to 98 municipal councils, according to results released on Wednesday.

The country’s entire mink herd was culled last year in response to the rising spread of coronavirus from mink to people, including a new mutated strain, denting support for the party led by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

“Mette Frederiksen faces her most serious political crisis as prime minister,” broadcaster DR’s political analyst, Christine Cordsen, wrote in an analysis.

“The crisis is not lessened by a disappointing election result, for which many Social Democrats will no doubt partly blame her.”

Overall support for the Social Democratic Party has fallen since forming a one-party minority government following the 2019 general election, according to opinion polls. The next general election is due within the next 1-1/2 years.

Opposition lawmakers have accused the prime minister of deliberately working against an investigation into whether ministers including Frederiksen knew of but ignored the faulty legal basis for the cull order.

Supporting parties, which Frederiksen relies on to stay in power, have also expressed concern over her handling of the crisis.

The votes have been counted in 84 of 98 municipalities and the Social Democratic Party has so far won 35 mayoral posts, compared with 47 at the last election. The party managed to cling on to the three largest cities, including the capital Copenhagen.

The head of the far-right Danish People’s Party (DPP), once a dominant force in Danish politics and in the vanguard of a populist surge across Europe, said on Wednesday he would step down following disappointing results in local elections.

Kristian Thulesen Dahl, DPP leader since 2012, said he would request an extraordinary party assembly to elect a new chairman. He would not run for re-election, he said.

The DPP has been part of the political establishment for more than two decades and used to be the toughest on immigration.

Photo – Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen . EPA-EFE/Niels Christian Vilmann

 

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