Your Danish Post

What’s at stake at the local and regional elections

Most foreigners living here can vote at these elections. Find out what they are all about to help you decide.

The article continues below.

By Bente D. Knudsen

Every four years, Danish residents can vote for their local political representatives (their municipality) as well as for their representatives in their region.

Since 2009 there have been 98 municipalities, down from 271 before the amalgamation reduced the number of municipalities. There are five regions in total. The regions’ main task is to ensure the running of the regional health sector and the hospitals.

Voting rates are high in Denmark for the local municipal elections. At the last ones in 2017, 70,8 percent of those eligible to vote did so, this is quite high compared to an EU average of 50 percent. At the national elections in Denmark the rate is somewhat higher at 85 percent.

The article continues below.

The high voter turnout does show the importance Danes put in using their voice also locally. Foreigners living here from the EU can vote at these elections as well as non-EU-citizens if they have lived in the country for more than four years.

However, few do so, only 8,7 percent of all foreign residents able to vote did so in 2017. Amongst foreigners there is a huge national difference between those who vote or not. Iraqi nationals (38 percent), Indian/Sri Lankan nationals (58 percent) and Polish nationals (20 percent) have quite high rates.

The article continues below.

Local elections are quite important as 70 percent of all public expenditure is distributed locally and regionally. Danes also consider it a social event; many bring along their children as this occasion is seen as the opportunity to teach the next generation the importance of voting.

Danish media also covers the local and regional elections with the same intensity as the general elections.

So, what is the local and regional election about?

The article continues below.

It is not about the coronavirus epidemic according to Professor Ulrik Kjær from the Department of Political Science and Public Management at SDU ( The University of Southern Denmark)

Had the elections been held in 2020, they would have been more focused on the handling of the epidemic. However, with the increase in spread it could affect turnout, and the message is to bring your own pen, if you feel more comfortable you may wear a mask, remember to keep your distance, and do not enter the polling station if you have coronavirus like symptoms but ask to vote outside.

The article continues below.

Key issues at local elections are always welfare issues such as child and elderly care, schools, waste handling, traffic and other local subjects impacting on residents’ daily life.

Subjects related to the environment could see a breakthrough at these elections compared to the 2017 agenda as environment issues are big on the national agenda and the local municipalities key in on them.

The article continues below.

In some cities local dramas may take place if there is a change in majority. A change in majority could take place in Copenhagen, on Frederiksberg as well as in Vejle, Randers and Esbjerg.

A change in majority can affect the election of the position as mayor, a position which is nominated after the local elections at the first meeting of the new municipal council.

The Danish Social Democrats and the party Venstre hold the most positions as mayor amongst the 98 municipal councils.

Traditionally the Danish Social democrats have held the majority and thus the position as mayor in the four biggest cities in the country, and according to Ulrik Kjær, they will most likely take them again.

The 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th largest cities, who have Mayors from different political parties, notably Venstre, may end up being Social Democrats as well this time.

In Copenhagen the next mayor, if there is a change in majority, may be from the coalition party Enhedslisten.

The article continues below.

If this is the case, it may have some consequences on a national level for Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen.

So far, the party policies have been dominated by those of the Prime Minister, policies which have focused less on the big cities but more on the Danish middle class living outside of the big cities, this has to some extent pushed away or alienated Social Democratic voters in the big cities.

A setback locally could leave room for more open criticism of Mette Frederiksen and her policies amongst the fractions that are more left wing than right wing within the party. She is already under pressure internally due to the current daily bad press due to the mink scandal and the hearing about the handling of the mink killing in 2020 which is exposing the handling of the situation by the Danish Government and notably a small, closed circle around the Prime Minister.

The article continues below.

According to the Ministry of housing and internal affairs ( Inderigs og boligministeriet) a total of 414,966 non-Danes may vote, they represent 8,9 percent of total voters. The number of foreigners able to vote has grown during the past years as in 2009 there were 231,741 non-Danish residents able to vote.

The article continues below.

To Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten, Professor Rune Stubager, from the Department of political science at Aarhus University, it is a challenge to get foreign residents to the polling stations. Despite efforts to get more foreign residents to vote, the Danish political parties do not focus on the challenges of being a non-Danish resident and there are no political campaigns from any party who focus on attracting them.

The local and regional elections take place on 16 November, it is recommended to vote at other times of the day than during the rush hour. Most voters on the day vote between 8 and 9 in the morning and again between 16-20.

Support our magazine with a contribution of any size

We hope that you enjoy the information, insights and inspiration that we provide. We are a small team and we would like to keep delivering high quality, interesting articles for you to enjoy and your support will help Your Danish Life to continue to produce relevant content for expats in Denmark.

We do not want to put up a pay-wall, so we need your support and if you find our content relevant and worthwhile, we would value any contribution, however big or small, as a token of your appreciation of our efforts.

How to support:
Transfer any contribution to our bank account at: Your Danish Life/ Danish Expat Media Aps
Danske Bank Account number: 3409 11405673
IBAN: DK68 3000 0011 4056 73

or MobilePay to 2144 1224

Message: Support