In case you haven’t already added Kai Arzheimer’s blog to your feed-reader, check out his attempts at playing a couple of voting aids for the European Parliament election.
And this was where I landed on votematch.eu:
The thing is: There is a referendum on an amendment to the Act of Succession attached to the European Parliament election, but the really big question is if the amendment will make it or if the entire Danish political elite will be standing with egg on their faces on Sunday night next week.
The short story is this: Back in 1915 (!), the Liberal leader J.C. Christensen wanted to block possible later attempts by the Social Liberals and Social Democrats to introduce a more radical constitution so as a conservative guarantee he had a provision that any later changes to the Danish constitution had to be passed by to consecutive parliaments and a referendum where 45% of all eligible voters voted in favour of the new constitution.
In 1920, the reunification with Sønderjylland meant that the consitution had to be amended slightly, but despite the overwhelming support for the reunification, only 47,5% of all voters voted in favour of the amendment while 1,5% voted against. It was a close shave.
In 1939, Christensen got his revenge (even if he had been dead for 9 years by then) when a proposal supported by the Social Democrats, the Social Liberals and the Conservatives was narrowly defeated as only 44,5% voted yes and 3,9% no. Interestingly, the 1953 constitutional reform was more controversial: 45,8% yes-votes against 12,3% no-votes. One important part of the 1953 constitution was a lowering of the threshold to 40%, another the introduction of article 20.2 which opens for referendums on the transfer of sovereignty to international organs following the normal rules for referendums (30% no-votes needed to block a proposal)
As we all know, Danish governments have won two and lost two article 20.2 referendums since 19531, lost four and won one under article 42 and won three and lost one under article 29 (voting age, in case you wonder), but we haven’t had a constitutional referendum for 56 years. In short: Nobody knows how the Act of Succession will fare even if 86% of voters say they are in favour of introducing full primogeniture. However, with an expected turn-out hovering around 48% – and given the extremely lacklustre campaign a lower turn-out shouldn’t be ruled out – we are now really close to the 40%.
The Prime Minister’s Office has launched a campaign promoting the amendment to the Act of Succession – which in itself is interesting and constutitionally questionable – and placed advertisements to be shown in DR TV’s OBS-slots (usually at 1 am Sunday night) – which might be even more questionable. And Billed-Bladet, the self-declared “Royal Magazine of Denmark”? Not a word.
PS: You want fact-sheets on Danish referendums? Here goes.
- The 1993 referendum was under article 42 [↩]
The design of the Social Liberals puzzles me: The thing is that both the font and the colours look like something which was modern in the 1960s. Perhaps the SLs are hoping for another 1968?
I still haven’t managed to catch the one with Poul Nyrup Rasmussen endorsing Dan Jørgensen with a camera but I did come across a bunch of Bendt Bendtsens a couple of days ago. Riding a bike and taking photos at the same time is generally not a good idea, though.
Fellow blogger Jarl Cordua discusses the campaign in a post (Danish) on K-Forum. That’s where all the communications experts hang out, in case you wonder. ðŸ˜›
I shot some photos of election posters which have begun to appear in the campaign for the European Parliament elections. Generally, the posters are run-off-the-mill and not very inspiring.
The Danish People’s Party is running the most professional (and easily the most visible) campaign with large posters of the party’s leading candidate Morten Messerschmidt appearing on billboards just about everywhere. Messerschmidt is certain to get elected and he may be followed by another MEP from DF.
The somewhat bizarre placement of the poster for SF’s Margrethe Auken next to a garbage-can is definitively misleading: SF is likely to do well in the election and pick up at least one and possibly two seats in the next parliament.
I have collected all of my election poster photos in a set on my Flickr stream. More to come, so stay tuned.
Just a short note re Jens Rohde’s announcement that he would be making Danish and not liberal politics in the European Parliament. My former colleague Camilla Sandström wrote her thesis on the ELDR (the “party” whose line Rohde will not tow). Camilla’s thesis is unfortunately not available online but you may want to check out another Umeå-thesis: Magnus Blomgren’s “Cross-Pressure and Political Representation in Europe: A comparative study of MEPs and the intra-party arena” (available through this link):
The overall picture that emerges is of a relatively weak link between MEPs and the national level. To a certain extent, MEPs express frustration over their limited role in the national arena and over the lack of input from the national arena in their work at the European level. Most of the parties struggle to include MEPs in their organizational set-up, and the MEPs experience a growing hostility within the parties toward them. In general, the lack of interest and knowledge in the national arena, concerning the EU in general and specifically the work of the MEPs, obscures the role of the MEPs. They become EU ambassadors at the national level, rather than elected representatives at the EU level.
PS: If you have access, you might also want to take a look at Simon Hix et al, 2006: “Dimensions of Politics in the European Parliament”, American Journal of Political Research, 50/2, 494-511.
While we’re at it: The European Parliament election campaign is so not happening up until now. Okay – we have the parties, the platforms and the candidates, but not really much in way of a campaign.
Perhaps we ought to thank the former Bendt Bendtsen who unexpectedly pulled Turkey into the non-campaign by asserting that Turkey should never be a member of the EU. The Danish People’s Party loved it, the Conservatives turned out to be split on the issue, and now one of the Liberal hopefuls have joined the chorus criticising Bendtsen.
The question now is: If we leave aside that Turkish EU membership is at least 30 to 40 years out in the future, what got into Bendtsen?
I would guess that the Conservatives wanted to keep this as a non-issue, and we don’t have any indications that Bendtsen’s move was cleared with the Conservative leadership. Perhaps he was beginning to fear that the party would be left without MEPs and looking to poach prospective Liberal and DF voters?
Who knows: Maybe Turkey will be the issue that will liven up the campaign, even if it in that case is destined to become ugly. That the Conservatives otherwise have tried to place themselves to the left of the Liberals and DF on the authoritarian-libertarian dimension just makes the picture more complicated.
Well, with a bit of help, actually.
- Eurobarometer has a poll covering voting intentions, voters’ ranking of issues, etc. Looks like we’re in for a fall in turn-out. HT: Charlemagne, the Europhile ðŸ˜›.
- There is a Danish poll out (but don’t tell anyone). Surprise result: The Eurosceptic movements look to lose heavily. Let’s see.
Bonus: The Prime Minister’s speech in the Folketing earlier today. Haven’t had the time to read it yet.
Charlemagne – of The Economist, not of the Franks – wonders if Barack Obama has accidentally fired a rather explosive device in the run-up to the European elections by calling for Turkish membership of the EU.
As we all remember, there were some recent incidents involving Denmark and Turkey and the Danish People’s Party tried to make to most of it. If we look at the platforms for the 2009 European Parliament election – see my links here – most parties dodge the issue one way or the other.
- No mention: Social Democrats, Conservatives, June Movement, People’s Movement.
- Strongly negative: Danish People’s Party (“Turkey should never be a member of the EU” – Islam, women’s rights and size/economic development as the main arguments)
- Mention: Liberals (“Not relevant at the moment or in the shorter term”)
- Positive: Socialists, Social Liberals (long term – when the country lives up to membership criteria)