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POLITICS

Danish PM Frederiksen loses majority in ‘neck and neck’ new poll

A new opinion poll has placed Denmark’s right and left wings in a dead heat, breaking a trend which has seen Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen maintain an advantage over her rivals and adding intrigue ahead of the next election.

Danish PM Frederiksen loses majority in 'neck and neck' new poll
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen visits a national Scouts camp on July 30th. A new opinion poll puts Denmark's left and right wings neck and neck as a general election looms. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The opinion poll, conducted by Epinion on behalf of broadcaster DR, gives the ‘red bloc’ of allied left-wing parties 47.9 percent of support, and 47.8 percent to the conservative ‘blue bloc’.

This includes a downturn in support for Frederiksen’s Social Democratic party, which has 24.2 percent support in the latest poll compared to 27.2 percent in the preceding poll from May this year. An overall majority for the red bloc has also vanished.

The ‘bloc’ classification commonly referred to in Danish politics broadly denotes whether parties are right or left of centre.

‘Blue bloc’ parties will usually work together in parliament and back the leader of the Liberal (Venstre) party to be prime minister if they can command a majority after a general election. The ‘red bloc’ will usually support the Social Democratic leader to become PM, as is currently the case with Frederiksen.

Each bloc contains several parties and therefore a range of political ideologies, however.

READ ALSO: A foreigner’s guide to understanding Danish politics in five minutes

The hair’s-breadth gap between the two blocs is interesting at the current time because the Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party, which is an ally of the government, has demanded Frederiksen call a general election by October 4th.

Although a new general election is not due until next year, the Social Liberals said they would give Frederiksen until October to call an election after the government and Frederiksen were severely criticised earlier this summer in an official inquiry into the mink scandal. The fallout from the inquiry is a major factor in the poor performance of the Social Democrats in the latest poll.

The Social Liberals have the ability to bring down the government by withdrawing their support for Frederiksen and bringing an no confidence motion in parliament, although it’s not certain they would actually do this.

Another interesting element of the new poll is its inclusion of two new parties.

The Danmarksdemokraterne (Denmark Democrats), a new right-wing party led by former immigration minister Inger Støjberg, has 10.8 percent support in the poll. The Moderates, led by former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, has 3.1 points.

In both cases, this would be enough to see both parties over the threshold for parliamentary representation, giving them representatives in the Folketing parliament.

Støjberg has confirmed her party would work within the blue bloc, but the more centrist Rasmussen has not done this. As such, the ex-PM could have a kingmaker role should a general election be as close as the poll, because his decision on whether to back Frederiksen or Liberal leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen for prime minister could tip the overall balance.

It is unclear whether the Moderates will decide on which to support before an election, or whether they would wait until after the election results come in.

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POLITICS

Could next party in Danish parliament be led by AI?

A new political party in Denmark whose policies are derived entirely from artificial intelligence (AI) hopes to stand in the country's next general election in June 2023.

Could next party in Danish parliament be led by AI?

Launched in late May by the artists’ collective Computer Lars, the Synthetic Party wants to reach out to the around 15 percent of Danes who did not exercise their right to vote in the previous election in 2019.

The party believes they did not vote because none of the traditional parties appealed to them. 

By analysing all of Denmark’s fringe parties’ written publications since 1970, the Synthetic Party’s AI has devised a programme that it believes represents “the political visions of the everyday person”, one of the members of the collective, Asker Bryld Staunaes, told AFP.

The party “takes its departure in an analysis of optimising the voting system in Denmark”, he said.

It is also a tongue-in-cheek response to the hundreds of small parties created over the years, some based more on mocking or criticising society than actual political policy.

Denmark currently has 230 such micro-parties, including the Synthetic Party.

“It’s a way to mimic and simulate the political process throughout but in a direct confrontation of the apparatus of lawmaking and political enforcement and organisation rights”, Bryld Staunaes said.

Among the party’s proposals is the introduction of a universal basic income of 100,000 kroner a month — more than double the average Danish salary.

The party also backs the addition of an 18th UN sustainable development goal that would allow “humans and algorithms to coexist more directly than now”, Bryld Staunaes said.

It remains to be seen if the party has enough support to stand in the 2023 vote — it needs 20,182 signatures to do so and currently has just four, according to official election data.

But if it does manage to win a seat in parliament, it plans to use its mandate to link AI to the work being done by members of the assembly.

“The idea… is to take this huge political and economic force (algorithms)… to try to inscribe it into the traditional political system,” Bryld Staunaes said.

Currently, “we have no way of actually addressing humans and AI within a democratic setting”, he added.

People can interact directly with the party’s AI on messaging platform Discord via chatbots.

The party plans to hold its first election rally “for a human audience” in September.

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