As we enter the final days of campaigning, the mood gets more intense. Lars Løkke Rasmussen kicked off the final lap with interviews in Berlingske and Jyllands-Posten playing the immigration card – late in the campaign – and presenting the Liberals as the “new workers’ party” – also late in the campaign. Løkke actually recycles the Swedish Conservatives’ successful slogan from the 2006 election but I wonder why the Danish Liberals haven’t used this slogan from the start of the campaign.
Basically, what Løkke and the Liberals are doing at this stage, is juxaposing the “known” Liberal policy with the “unknown” Social Democratic policy. Tonight’s debate between Løkke Rasmussen and Helle Thorning-Schmidt very much centered on this with Thorning-Schmidt repeating the “you have had ten years”-argument at libitum. This is a strategy built on valence issue arguments. The underlying ideological differences between the blocs tend to get obscured. (On the other hand, Thorning-Schmidt cleverly deflected attacks on immigration policy by claiming that ghetto formations had taken place during the centre-right governments’ terms in office).
I would argue that Løkke Rasmussen could use the “specific policies” argument to his advantage. His problem is that a) the development in Danish employment has been very bad since the end of 2008 and that b) his carefully prepared stunts and phrases very much look and sound like carefully prepared stunts and phrases.
Thorning-Schmidt, on the other hand, should be banging the employment drum as loudly as possible during the last days of the campaign. Her problem is that there is in fact very little or no room for the expansion of public services that we are promised by the Social Democrats.
Finally: Foreign policy was discussed briefly in tonight’s debate from the perspective “Denmark will support the US”. There was absolutely no mention of Europe (besides a very brief mentioning of the, politically irrelevant, EU chairmanship in early 2012) or the European aspects of the economic crisis. Interesting, at least to me.