Today, November 19th, 2013 should definitely be marked in our calendars with a pen of an intense red color. If you haven’t marked it yet, do so – that is the day residents can vote in Danish Municipal and Regional elections.
If you are attentive enough, you must have already noticed a number of flyers hanging all around the city. Such banners exposing candidates remind residents about Danish local elections of 2013, which will be held in 98 municipality councils as well as five regional councils.
Internationals are encouraged to vote
The rules for voting of temporary and permanent movers vary highly across countries. Denmark allowed foreigners to vote in the early 1980, and now, besides Danish citizens who are over 18, international residents will also have an option to vote in local municipalities. Foreign nationals of the Scandinavian countries and EU Member States are allowed to vote if they hold a Central Personal Registration card (CPR) as well as currently reside in the country. Otherwise, international residents are also allowed to vote if they have continuously lived in a municipality for at least three years and hold a yellow card. In total, around 1,8 million residents in Northern and Central Jutland have the right to vote.
If you have the right to vote, you must have already receivee a polling card in your mailbox, which you should bring along with your ID to the voting station indicated, where you will be given a list of parties together with candidate names. If you happen to damage the given paper you are free to ask for a new one as long as you have not put it into the ballot box. In such case it will be counted as if you have voted, even though the paper might be damaged and in this case the vote itself will not be counted (i.e. voted incorrectly, left empty or crossed out).
We need your voice!
Voters are encouraged to vote and choose their representatives, which will serve a purpose of their voice within national matters. When it comes to public services and taxes, local elections are said to be the most important elections. Your vote can impact you directly and your voice can be relatively influential knowing that Danish municipalities have their own tax collection and decide where their tax money will be spent, i.e. municipalities have a great influence on public services – schools, retirement homes and childcare institutions.
Some info on the parties
Denmark is a country having multi-party system, where there are two-three strong parties. The four most influential are Social Democrats, Venstre, Danish Social Liberal Party (or Radikale Venstre) and Folkeparti (conservative people’s party).
Socialdemokraterne: as the party’s name itself suggests, Social Democrats are committed to the political ideology of social democracy. Key issues of Danish Social Democrats are economy and welfare state. The party, founded in 1871, is being consistent with their focus on solidarity with the poorest and social welfare to those who need it. The can be called as “architect” of the modern Danish welfare state.
Venstre: Venstre, or “the left” in English, was founded in 1870, and traditionally it was a party advocating free trade. Since 2001, the party has mainly been working with taxes, where the initiative is supposed to encourage people to go off welfare and rather take the jobs (e.g. people with jobs would get 3% of tax reduction). The party is rooted in the liberal tradition emphasizing individual freedom, free markets and liberalization of business.
Radikale Venstre: also called as Danish Social Liberal Party (“The Radical left), is a social liberal political party in Denmark. In 1905, after the Venstre Reform Party split, Radikale Venstre were formed. The main goal of Radikale venstre is to reduce social inequality, reconsider 24 year rule (the party is highly against 24 year rule, that forbids to get married in Denmark until the age of 24) and taxes; they wish to simplify the tax system. Det Radikale Venstre is situated at the centre of the Danish political spectrum.
Det Konservative Folkeparti: or in English, the Conservative People’s party, was created in 1915. Having the slogan “Strong values – healthy economy”, party, as expected, mainly focuses on family values, taxes and justice. Conservatives wish to ensure healthy business environment without forgetting family values.
Socialistik Folkeparti (SF): founded in 1959, SF set a goal to work with the ideological base of Popular Socialism. SF supports human rights as well as rights of minorities and democracy. The main issues, that SF deals with, are healthcare, job creation and emphasis on schools. Besides, SF was highly Eurosceptic, though after seeing the outcomes, SF became more positive about the EU. SF supports environmental protection and feminism.
Dansk Folkeparti (DF): Otherwise also called “Danish peoples party”, is probably the most controversial political party, also often accused of racism. Not too long ago, Holger Gorm Petersen, a mayoral candidate for DF, expressed his opinion that internationals should not vote at all (article here); and a couple international candidates in Denmark were approached by DF, saying that “Denmark should be for Danes”. Usually described as right-wing populist by political scientists, party was founded in 1995. Since then, members of DF expressed goals to protect the freedom as well as culture heritage of Denmark and Danish people, especially Monarchy and Church. DF is against Denmark becoming a multi-ethnic society and believe that immigration should be highly regulated. DF also aims to strenghten education and encourage people to work as well as put emphasis on environment and natural resources.
Liberal Alliance: with the promising goal “fewer laws – more liberty”, party focuses on economy and wish to lower the taxes. Liberal Alliance, founded in 2007 as the New Aliance, supports “realistic and human” immigration policies.
Kristendemokraterne: the party was founded in 1970 to oppose the liberalization of restrictions on pornography and the legalization of abortion. The key issues of K are family and healthcare. Besides, they are against the centralisation of local government and healthcare in recent years.
Enhedslisten: in English called Red-Green Alliance promotes created only 24 years ago, in 1989 as an electoral alliance by three left-wing parties. Party’s program described party as an internationalist and revolutionary socialist. Party also wants to dissolve the military and police. The ky issues, that party focuses on are immigration, welface and climate change. The party could be described having communist ideals: they hope for no exploitation of labour and fair distribution of wealth.
Seniorpartiet: Senior Party is a non-party list in Aarhus, which focuses on the welfare of older residents in Aarhus municipality. They want to focus on establishing dignified aging policy and address the issues that would ensure older residents with better treatment for their own individual needs. The list has only 7 candidates.
Not sure what to do? Check out the video, made by Aarhus Kommune (in English) explaining how to vote. You can find video here.