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Should Denmark make it harder for new parties to enter elections?

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Should Denmark make it harder for new parties to enter elections?
Klaus Riskær Pedersen as general election results filter through on June 5th. Photo: Nikolai Linares / Ritzau Scanpix
10:25 CEST+02:00
Experienced politicians in Denmark say it has become too easy for newcomers to run in general elections and have called for rules to be reviewed in the wake of last week’s vote.

The 2019 general election saw 13 different parties listed on ballot papers – the highest number in 25 years. Three failed to enter parliament.

Election veterans have called for reform after a digital process was introduced for nominating new parties, easing the path for newcomers to reach the 20,000 so-called citizens’ nominations (vælgererkæringer) in time for the vote, Berlingske reports.

One party, the far-right extremist Stram Kurs, fulfilled the requirement weeks before the election was announced. Another, Klaus Riskær Pedersen, qualified earlier this year.

Neither of the two newest parties reached the threshold of 2 percent of the overall vote share needed to enter parliament.

“In the past, you had to send in written (physical) forms. That meant new parties were more serious. It has now become much easier, and that can make a mockery of democracy and ruin political debate,” veteran MP Berthel Haarder of the Liberal (Venstre) party told Berlingske.

Haarder, the longest-serving member of parliament, has suggested that the required number of citizens’ declarations be increased from 20,000 to 40,000.

Former leaders of a range of established parties, including Uffe Ellemann-Jensen (Liberals), Mogens Lykketoft (Social Democrats), Holger K. Nielsen (Socialist People’s Party) and Marianne Jelved (Social Liberals) have all agreed that current rules should be reviewed.

“It’s a problem that it is so easy to run. That is not the purpose of the party system we have in Denmark, and we are risking all sorts of chancers and others who suddenly appear being able to run. That is not sensible,” Nielsen said.

The issue appears to have divided opinion within the Danish parliament at Christiansborg.

Henrik Dam Kristensen of the Social Democrats said that caution should be applied before “making it too difficult (to run as a new party)”, while Karen Ellemann of the Liberals said she supported stricter rules.

Isabella Arendt is acting leader of the Christian Democrats, an established party with a small voter base which just missed out on election to parliament last week. Arendt said it would be “an incredibly bad idea” to make it harder for new parties to run in general elections.

The leader of the only new party to be elected to parliament, New Right’s Pernille Vermund, expressed similar sentiments.

“If it is made even more difficult, a lot of people will feel their voices are not being heard,” Vermund said to Berlingske.

READ ALSO: What do Denmark's left-wing parties want in talks to form new government?

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