The two most notable facts about Tuesday’s local election were 1) the reversal of the trend towards lower turnout in local elections and 2) the complete and utter failure of state broadcaster DR to present a competent and reliable coverage of the election results.
Otherwise the Social Democrats and the Liberals will be able to claim some kind of victory – the Social Democrats are still the largest party at the local level and were able to hold on to all four major cities (Copenhagen, Århus, Ålborg and Odense) while the Liberals made gains and won mayorships in a number of councils, thus surpassing the Social Democrats as the largest mayoral parties. Even the Conservatives were able to hold on to some traditional strongholds and winning mayorships in Hillerød and Køge. The party may be in deep trouble at the national level but it is not dead yet.
Other results were as expected – wins for the Red-Greens, the Social Liberals and the Danish People’s Party and heavy losses for SF. The overall picture of Danish local politics may be a bit more scattered now but the Social Democrats and the Liberals still dominate at the local level. Tuesday night brought us the usual handful of nasty agreements over the distribution of mayorships and chairmanships but all in all, the election looked fairly unsurprising.
We can’t say yet why turnout increased, but Denmark continues to be an interesting exception to the European trend towards lower turnout. The reversal is all the more interesting as 2009 saw the lowest turnout in living memory – many countries would count the measly 65% turnout four years ago as a massive victory for local government.
Finally, the was the complete clustef**k that was DR’s exit poll and election coverage. This merits a special post but suffice it to say that both national networks continued a deplorable tendency to overdo coverage before any reliable results are available (election specials could easily start at 9 pm) and that DR completely bungled the commission and use of the results of the exit poll – or exit prognosis as the network called it.
Occasionally, you make the right mistakes: I called DR a betwork, not a network 😉