Monday, June 8, 2009

The result of the EP Elections in Denmark

The elections turned out very interesting, and over half the Danes came out to vote (perhaps because of the constitutional change) which is very good for Danes' involvement in the EU democratic processes. However, before proceeding to the elected candidates, I must mention the great losers of the election which I have to regret are Junibevægelsen and Radikale Venstre.
Although I generally disagree with Junibevægelsen, I find it a huge pity that Ms. Hanne Dahl did not get re-elected into the Parliament; she has undoubtedly been one of the most competent Danish MEP's and Junibevægelsen has done a lot to push for increased transparency and democracy in the EU. The demise of Junibevægelsen is a huge loss to the MEP and to Danish voters who are concerned about EU transparency.
And I say this as someone who is a supporter of Danish membership in the Euro and to take away the Danish "forbehold."

The Radikale Venstre had a messy campaign, although one must admire the tenacity and optimism of Sofie Carsten Nielsen; I hope to see her in Danish politics.
Nevertheless, one must question some of the choices that the party made; they chose to focus only on Ms. Carsten Nielsen, and this totally overshadowed other candidates, most notably Mr. Johannes Lebech, who has been a competent MEP over the last five years. Also, I am afraid their alliance with the Social Democrats and SF backfired, as some voters became afraid of seeing their votes being wasted on more socialist parties.
The great winners were DF and SF, who each managed to get two mandates. DF continues being an important player in Danish politics, and has run a very good campaign, competently appealing to the more nationally-minded voters, sceptic of EU cooperation. I also think DF in fact benefitted from no alliances with other parties: if you voted for DF you knew your vote would not get traded for petty favours!
Some of the Venstre and Conservative candidates also tried strategy based on petty nationalisms, and in spite of what they may think themselves, they came out quite pathetic and unreliable in the face of it. In Venstre there has been an open debate on the chosen strategy, and I agree with them who say this backfired and made DF stronger.
SF rode on the wave of increased popularity in Danish politics, as well as with the perfect combination of a competent and experienced Margretehe Auken and a dynamic and young Emilie Turunen.

The 13 Danish MEPs are:
  • Margrethe Auken, SF: Very competent and intelligent candidate who drew the bulk of the personal votes in the party. It is certainly good that she will be back in the EP, and I hope that she is able to access the Danish media more to tell about her good work in the EP.
  • Emilie Turunen, SF: I followed her closely in the campaign, considering to vote for her, but in the end found her way too immature, mostly because she seemed very narrowminded and insulting towards other candidates. No question about her great dynamism though. In one debate I heard her promise that she would keep her constituency close to her work even when in Brussels, but I honestly doubt that she will keep this.
  • Dan Jørgensen, Social Democrats: Has been interesting to follow Mr. Jørgensen in the campaign, where he has suddenly had to justify his last five years in Brussels, which he got by free-riding on the popularity of Poul Nyrup Rasmussen. I must admit that I have my doubts to him, as I heard nothing about him during his previous five years and that some rather odd stories came out about him, like him voting "wrongly" on an issue of animal welfare as well as being the Danish MEP with lowest attendance in the EP. I hope he improves since his voters certainly deserve it, and he should be thankful for their trust.
  • Britta Thomsen, Social Democrats: She led a serious campaign on her core issues on sustainable energy and equality, using her experience as an MEP very well in the face of a campaign that often lack substance.
  • Christel Schaldemose, Social Democrats: Has been an MEP for the last five years, and I am certain she has been competent and hardworking, something she has deservedly benefitted from. She managed to get many personal votes in spite of a somewhat less prominent campaign. In a debate I heard her say that she has been the most cited Danish MEP the last five years. I must admit I hadn't noticed this, but hope that she manages to make herself more noticed this time around.
  • Ole Christensen, Social Democrats: This candidate can thank the alliance with the Radikale that he got in, and I personally greatly blame the Radikale for this (they thus justified my limited bad conscience at not voting for them!). In his time as an MEP he has never been heard about in any domestic debate and I doubt he will be heard of any more over the next five years.
  • Morten Messerschmidt, DF: Emerged as the great winner of the elections with some 265,000 personal votes. I personally find him too ideological and appealing to the lowest denominators of Danish nationalism, but I have to respect his intelligence and competence. I am certain he will be a hardworking and competent MEP, although very ideological. He is surely bound for a great career in Danish politics.
  • Anna Rosbach, DF: If I liked anyone from DF it was Ms. Rosbach, who knows the EP well, has a very positive approach to her colleagues in the EP (differently from one of her predecessors, Mr. Mogens Camre), and I hope she continues working like that as an MEP for a party that largely has a negative message to anyone who is not Danish.
  • Jens Rohde, Venstre: Mr. Rohde as probably run the most populistic and unreliable campaign of all candidates. But as top candidate of Venstre he managed to get sufficient exposure to appeal to nationalistic voters with some very un-Venstre rhetoric. I have no idea how he will bring Danish views to the EU, like he has said he will; in fact, I believe that this is another way of telling us that he will not try to be accountable to Danish voters.
  • Morten Løkkegaard, Venstre: The example that you only need to be a known face to get elected, Mr. Løkkegaard drew more personal votes from many far more experienced and competent candidates, after barely running an election campaign. I don't think we will hear from him at all over the next five years.
  • Anne E. Jensen, Venstre: A very experienced and competent candidate who with this enters her third term as an MEP. I thought this was too much, as I think Ms. Jensen has been too anonymous in her last period as an MEP. But with a new period I hope she uses her experience to continue her good work. She is the only hope of a serious politician for Venstre in the EP.
  • Bendt Bendtsen, Conservative: Mr. Bendtsen had a good personal election - no question about it. However, I think he could have pulled more votes for his party, and get one more Conservative in, had he not been so poor in the debates (he looked like he couldn't bother) and so focused on Turkey. I have very few expectations to him as an MEP, except that I predict we will hear something shady about him at one point.
  • Søren Søndergaard, Folkebevægelsen mod EU: It is a pity that it was not Junibevægelsen who entered to represent the EU-sceptic movements. However, Folkebevægelsen, and notably Søren Søndergaard has skillfully combined an appeal to the left-wing voters and the nationalist voters, and still advocates for Denmark to withdraw from the EU. He will surely be controversial as an MEP and push for changes.
In relation to the candidates I would have preferred to see in the Parliament, only Ms. Margrethe Auken and Ms. Anna Rosbach managed to get elected. Of course I would have liked to see all "my favourites" represented, but there are certain candidates I personally find a great shame that they didn't get in (in spite of the fact that I didn't vote for them in the end): Venstre's Mr. Kasper Elbjørn and Ms. Louise Freiberg, as well as the Conservatives' Mr. Christian Wedell-Neergaard. They would all have been far more competent and accountable MEP's than the candidates who actually got elected from these two parties.
I really hope to see them in Danish politics in the future.
In general I am mostly in doubt about the candidates from Venstre, Conservative and the Social Democratic party. In spite of some of them being extremely competent and experienced (Ms. Schaldemose, Ms. Thomsen and Ms. Jensen), I am afraid that we will not hear from them over the next five years now they are "safely" in Brussels.
I have great doubts they would even answer a question from a petty citizen like me - maybe they can prove me wrong...?

Now what remains is to follow the work of all of these candidates over the next five years. Have no doubt that the democratic work of citizens don't end with the elections, but must continue by monitoring our MEPs and making them accountable.
That is what they get (very well!) paid for, and each of them must now prove to all the good people who voted for them and whom they represent, that they are in Brussels and Strasbourg for them, and not for their own small egos and purses.

The privilege and burden is on you all, MEP's.
In the meantime, congratulations to each of you.

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