The campaign has generally been described as unusually dull with very few interesting themes. One reason may be that the financing of the new bodies hasn’t been settled yet so that it has been difficult for the candidates to make clear promises.
The national parties kept a relatively low profile: The Social Democrats declared that their aim was to win the posts as mayor in all four big cities (Copenhagen, Århus, Ålborg and Odense) – alternatively ”three of the four big cities” – while the Liberals declared that their aim was to win ”a plurality” of mayoral posts.
The campaign in Copenhagen attracted some national interest. The Social Democrats in Copenhagen failed to recruit a mayoral candidate from their own ranks and in stead chose to field the 64-year old veteran Ritt Bjerregaard – who first entered national politics in 1971 and has been a minister and a European commissioner – as their candidate for the post of First Mayor and successor of Jens Kramer Mikkelsen who left office in late 2004 and was replaced by interim candidate Lars Engberg.
Two other politicians presented themselves as candidates for the office of First Mayor: Søren Pind (Venstre/Liberal) who had been Housing and Infrastructure Mayor since 1997 and was generally seen as belonging to the hard-line faction of his party. Pind’s relationship with the leadership of his party is notoriously bad with a dirty campaign between Pind and his ally Martin Geertsen on the one hand and the party leadership and Jens Rohde on the other about a safe parliamentary seat in the run-up to the 2005 national elections as the high – or low – point.
Pind ran a hard-line campaign focusing on law-and-order (in itself not an issue for local government) and integration policy where he announced tough measures against young immigrants who committed crimes. The campaign turned out to be a complete failure both in terms of choice of issue and stance.
The other main candidate was Klaus Bondam (Radikale Venstre/Social Liberal) who is best known as an actor (He played the role of the toastmaster in Thomas Vinterberg’s 1997 dogma movie “Festen” and in the last episode of the popular crime series Rejseholdet/Mordkommissionen a Justice Minister who might have murdered an African prostitute) and a successful theatre manager. He also succeeded in easing out long-time party faithful Inger Marie Bruun Vierø as the party’s local political leader. Bondam is also one of the few openly gay politicians in Denmark.
Finally the main candidate of the Danish People’s Party, Louise Frevert, caused a scandal when articles posted on her homepage were criticised for being racist. Frevert managed to survive this by blaming her webmaster for the postings.
The campaign in Århus attracted some interest as incumbent Louise Gade (Liberal) who broke 82 years of Social Democrat rule tried to win re-election as mayor against the new Social Democratic candidate Nicolai Wammen.
In Odense incumbent Anker Boye (Social Democrat) had problems with a number of minor scandals – mostly related to the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the writer H.C. Andersen – and was challenged in the local elections by the outgoing Conservative county mayor Jens Boye. (The two Boyes are not related).
In both Århus and Odense, it was prognosed that the Social Liberal party would hold the balance and that party’s national leadership had decided to take a demonstratively neutral stance.
The merger of communes meant that the relationship between old towns and countryside and suburban communes attracted some attention. As it turned out the mergers did hold some surprises for established politicians in many communes.
Comic relief was provided by the campaign in Rudersdal, which is a merger of Søllerød and Birkerød communes – both among the most affluent suburbs of Copenhagen – when the Conservative Party decided to choose industrialist and socialite Christian Kjær as the party’s front candidate. The led the Conservative mayor of Birkerød to leave his party while the Liberal mayor of Søllerød ridiculed Kjær as a “National Inquirer”-kind of candidate. (Verbatim: “En ugebladskandidat” and “en Se-og-Hør-figur”).