March 2023 | Decision to declare parts of Syria safe endangers refugees
The Syrian province of Latakia, a stronghold of the Bashar al Assad regime, was deemed safe to return to by the Danish Refugee Appeals Board. This means that refugees from this province will have their residence permits revoked. Denmark has revoked 150 residence permits of nationals coming from Damascus since 2019. Denmark is unable to deport these asylum seekers due to lack of diplomatic relations with Syria. Most of these asylum seekers were placed in deportation centers and were left in limbo. Both Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International have reported on the human rights abuses and persecution coming from Syrian authorities. HRW has called for the decision to be revoked and has stated the risk in Syria remains high no matter which part the refugees come from.
January 2023 | Quran burned in Copenhagen
Following the Quran-burning protest in Sweden, the Danish-Swedish far-right activist, Rasmus Paludan, replicated the stunt in three separate locations, including in front of the Turkish Embassy (Turkey is obstructing Sweden’s membership in NATO) and a mosque in Copenhagen. He said he will continue every Friday until Sweden is admitted to NATO. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) of the Council of Europe has highlighted the Social Rights and Equality environment and the “ghetto policy” as concerning in their report. Paludan’s actions sparked strong reactions by the Turkish authorities as well, who described it as a hate crime that provokes racist, xenophobic and anti-Muslim attacks. The Danish ambassador was summoned in Istanbul, and according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, Turkey expects the permission to be revoked. Paludan established far-right parties in both Denmark and Sweden, but failed to win any seats. In a survey, more than half of Danes responded they were in favour of banning Paludan’s Quran-burning protests due to national security concerns.
December 2022 | Denmark forms bipartisan government led by Social Democrats
A rare bipartisan coalition, bridging the country’s traditional left-right political divide, has been formed following 42 days of negotiations after the 1 November general elections. The last centrist coalition in Denmark was formed in 1978 and lasted only eight months. Social Democratic leader Mette Frederiksen will continue to be Denmark’s Prime Minister, leading a coalition with two centre-right parties – the traditional Liberal Party and the newly formed Moderates. The coalition controls 99 of the 179-seat parliament. Out of the government’s 23 ministries, 11 will be led by Social Democrats, seven by the Liberals and five by the Moderates. The cabinet consists of 15 men and eight women. The new government has planned to introduce reforms to its welfare model such as big tax cuts and abolishing a public holiday in order to boost productivity and increase labour supply. It additionally planned to accelerate defense spending to meet NATO’s target of 2 per cent of GDP and set firmer climate change objectives.
November 2022 | Social Democrats secure election majority
The incumbent Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s centre-left Social Democrats have secured the best election results in more than two decades as they gained the required 90 seats in the general election. This makes the Social Democrats the biggest party in the parliament with more than a quarter of the vote (27.5 per cent). Given that these elections were considered as a vote of confidence for Frederiksen’s handling of the pandemic as well as the ensuing crises due to inflation and geopolitical uncertainty, the results are important for the government’s and Prime Minister’s legitimacy going forward. Voter turnout was 84.2 per cent, a trend not too different from past elections.