Shocked faces at the election party at The Social Democratic Party. EPA-EFE/Mads Claus Rasmussen

News Vote 24

Historic defeat for Social Democrats in Denmark


Denmark’s Social Democrats suffered a seismic loss in the European Parliament elections, being overtaken by its rival Socialist People’s Party for the first time in history

The Socialists People’s Party (SF) rose to 17.4 per cent in the June 9 vote, growing almost 4 per cent compared to the previous elections, while the Social Democrats dropped from 21.5 per cent to 15.6 per cent.

In terms of vote share, the outcome was the weakest result for the Social Democrats since 1898.

Despite both left-wing parties having three seats in the European Parliament, the Socialists People’s Party is regarded as the moral victor.

According to SF leader Pia Olsen Dyhr, the party’s result needs to serve as a “catalyst” for a change in Denmark’s politics.

“There’s an alternative to this government. There’s an alternative that wants [more] welfare and [to do more for] the climate and we are willing to deliver this in the EU Parliament,” she told Danish broadcaster DR.

“It gives us a tailwind and enthusiasm for the party and it means people will be even more ready for local elections next year and the general election further ahead.”

Analyst Erik Holstein was more circumspect, telling the Danish news outlet Altinget: “There is absolutely nothing to suggest that Social Democrats voters have become a lot more enthusiastic about SF’s EU politics.”

“On the other hand, a lot of Social Democrats voters are deeply dissatisfied with the Conservatives and are voting for SF instead.”

In front of the media, the Social Democrats tried to downplay the loss.

“We got the three seats we had before. Then we also went back a bit, oh yes, but look at how miserably it has gone for government parties in many other European countries. It’s part of the trend,” party officials told journalists.

But most Danes will see the results as a clear loss for the party.

To make matters worse for the Danish Government, the two Liberal Parties with whom the Social Democrats are in coalition, also took a beating.

Liberal Venstre dropped from 23.5 per cent to 14.7 per cent, losing two of its four seats in the European Parliament. Still, party officials were somewhat relieved, as the polls had predicted even worse results.

The liberal Moderate Party secured one seat but garnered just 5.9 per cent, while the Danish People’s Party also secured a single seat in the European Parliament

Turnout in Denmark was high by European elections standards, with 58.2 per cent of the Danish electorate participating.

Unlike in the rest of Europe, parties further to the Right did not make real gains.

Social Democrats have long maintained a staunch anti-immigration position, which will likely reduce the possibility that its backers may switch to hard-right parties on immigration issues.