I hear Canada is set for another election, so I’ve decided to write about my experience with Danish elections. For whatever reason, the Danish government decided to let me vote. In Denmark's last election, there was a swing towards right-wing, anti-immigration parties. Since this is having a direct impact on us (as “immigrants”), I figured I should take a stand.
Not knowing much about the political parties, I turned to the internet for guidance. Finding no English content on the parties' websites, I entrusted my vote to Wikipedia.org. There, I learned some interesting things (summarized below mostly for Berner’s benefit). Based on this research, I chose the Socialist People’s Party (not really communists) because they seemed to hate immigrants the least and support environmental initiatives.
At the polling station, I was handed two enormous ballot papers (about 1m long and 50cm wide). For the municipal election, there were 120 candidates and on the regional ballot, there were 340 choices. Thanks primarily to my votes, a coalition of the three most left-wing parties won both the municipal and regional elections.
- They have no senators (or other “second chamber”)
- They use proportional representation.
- There are seven large parties (listed from left to right): Red-Greens, Socialist People’s Party, Social Democrats, Social Liberals, Liberals, Conservatives, Danish Folkparty.
- The Liberal party is called “Venstre” in Danish, which means “Left.” They haven’t been left-wing for about a century, but they haven’t bothered to change their name. The Social Liberals (“Radikale Venstre”) are also not very left-wing.
- Since there are many parties, they always have minority governments. The party with the most seats does not necessarily get to lead the country, if a larger coalition is formed.
- The current federal coalition is between the Liberals and Conservatives. They have succeeded in implementing several anti-immigration policies, like tuition fees, language requirements for work permits (you have three years to become fully fluent in Danish) and restrictions on foreign marriages (you have to be over 24 to marry a foreigner).