The National Level I – General
The political effects of the local elections on the national level seem to have been minimal. The Liberal Party has played down its inability to achieve the goal of becoming the party with the most mayors by blaming lock of cohesion in the centre-right camp, while the Social Democrats as of now haven’t been able to capitalise on the gains in the local elections in general and mayoral offices in particular.
One reason is that the national agenda in the media has been occupied by the publication of what can only be described as an avalanche of books on the internal conflict within the Social Democratic party during the 1990s and 2000s.
The former SD leader and PM Poul Nyrup Rasmussen published the second volume of his autobiography which included some harsh attacs on his predecessor as SD leader Svend Auken while one of Auken’s supporters, Jacob Buksti, published his account of the conflict giving a negative view of Nyrup and a journalist published a collective biography of Nyrup, Auken, Mogens Lykketoft and Ritt Bjerregaard.
Thus attention was drawn to the old fault lines within the party rather than a discussion of its present or future role in national politics.
It made little difference that a former Ekstra Bladet-journalist published a less-than-cordial portrait of former Conservative party leader and present editor of the said tabloid, Hans Engell. Despite, or perhaps because of, the internal conflicts in the Conservative Party during the mid and late 1990s where Engell directly or indirectly played an important role, no-one in the party wanted to open old wounds.
Whether or not the participation and eventual victory of the polical spokesman of the Liberal Party, Jens Rohde, in an entertainment contest on DR TV distracted attention may be a topic for further discussion. One of the other competitors in the show was the former Social Democratic minister Frank Jensen who after loosing the party vote to become party chairman in the spring is looking for a new career outside of politics.
The National Level II – Reactions to the Defections
Even if the relative number of defections do not seem to be higher than usual, they received an unusual degree of political attention on the national level. The Danish People’s Party suggested that newly elected councillors should not be allowed to leave their parties before the formal election of mayors, while a representative of the Liberal Party wanted to take away the right of non-Danish citizens to vote in local elections.
Both proposals were rejected immediately by the government.
The National Level III – Danish Peoples’ Party and Louise Frevert
The leading candidate for the Danish Peoples’ Party, Louise Frevert, attracted a lot of negative publicity during the campaign and after the election and she may be considered the #1 victim of the campaign.
In late September it was discovered that her personal homepage contained a number of articles which according to lawyers might be considered racist. After initially defending the articles publicly, Frevert finally declared that her webmaster had posted the texts without her knowledge.
Despite this retreat, the Social Liberal leader in Copenhagen declared that he under no circumstances would enter an agreement which also included the DPP and this in the end meant that the Liberal Søren Pind had no chance of becoming First Mayor of Copenhagen.
Frevert was forced to take a “time-out” from her post as an MP where she was the party’s spokesman on education and culture and on her return earlier this week, she was stripped of the position as education spokesman. (“Time-outs” have become a national pastime in Swedish politics since the Mona Sahlin affair back in 1996, but have been unknown in Denmark up untill now).
Finally Frevert was the victim of sexual harassment during the final days of the campaign as unknown activists placed posters in the streets in parts of Copenhagen with pictures of her dating from the 1970s and allegedly showing her in what can best be described as explicit contexts. The posters are under police investigation but no suspects have been named.
The question which is still being considered is to what degree Frevert’s behaviour and misfortunes can explain the relatively meagre result of the local elections for the DPP on the electoral arena and to what degree she has been made the scapegoat for the party’s performance.