We have to start somewhere so here is an overview of the performance of the main party groups in the Folketing over time. I have used the Barometer for May 12 in Berlingske’s Politiko to get an indication of where we are at the beginning of the electoral campaign.
And yes, the time series begin in 1918 with the introduction of proportional representation.
First, the Red (ie. Social Democrats, Socialists, Red-Greens and Social Liberals) versus the Blue bloc as they are formed in 2015 (and have been since 2001).
This one looks like a no-brainer. While the Blue bloc may not be performing as strongly as in 2001 and 2005, it is on course for a safe victory.
Second, a look at the traditional Workers’ and Bourgeois families. This shows how the left-wing in the general sense is historically challenged in 2015. The Social Democrats may not love the Social Liberals but they still depend on them to have any realistic chance of entering government. The close competition between parties with a socialist or reformist background on the one hand, and parties with a liberal or conservative background was a phenomenon of the 1960s and 1980s. This also points to the strategic disadvantage of the Social Democrats as it has evolved during the 21st century even if the Social Liberals have consistently supported Social Democratic-led governments since 1993.
The real drama, though, comes when we look at the state of the different groupings in the Danish party system. Here I should explain that I originally made the categories in order to analyse the dynamics of the party system in a Sartorian perspective. Basically, the question was if the Danish party system was able to integrate new parties or if the introduction of new parties threatened to pull the system apart. This also means that the right-wing, in particular, is a very heterogenous group – in 2015 it includes the ultra-liberal Liberal Alliance and the populist Danish People’s Party.
What we can see from figure is that, first, the left-wing has been able to keep the support it won in 2007 – on the other hand, the balance of power has changed so that the Red-Greens now are the stronger party while SF has lost support. This also means that the Red-Greens and, to a lesser degree in 2015, SF continue to challenge the Social Democratic dominance of the left side of Danish politics.
Second, there has also been a marked change in the balance of power on the bourgeois side – the traditional combination of Liberals and Conservatives has been weakened as the Liberals have not been able to benefit from the continuing Conservative crisis while the Danish People’s Party and, to a lesser extent, Liberal Alliance have won support.
Even if the opinion polls conducted during the 2011-2015 electoral term have seen some dramatic changes in the support for individual parties – the Social Democrats have been everywhere between 15 and 25% in polls and the Liberals similarly between 22 and 32% – my best guess is that the Folketing coming out of the 2015 election will be highly fragmented and that while Lars Løkke Rasmussen is the likely prime minister after the election, he will also face some unusual challenges in holding a parliamentary coalition of Liberals (probably weakened compared to 2011), Conservatives (in a perpetual crisis), Liberal Alliance (where the question is to what degree the party will want to compromise some of its economically libertarian policies) and the Danish People’s Party (where the conflict with the Liberals and Conservatives over EU policy still looms large).