Denmark's Social Democrats wins big in local elections
by Wu Bo
COPENHAGEN, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Denmark's opposition Social Democrats party has made big gains in Tuesday's local elections, official data showed on Wednesday.
With all votes counted, the Social Democrats party headed by Mette Frederiksen gained 32.5 percent of votes, up three percentage points from the 29.5 percent in the 2013 elections, while the ruling Liberal Party saw support rate decline from 26.6 percent to 24.1 percent.
Meanwhile, the Social Democrats scored victory in at least 45 out of all 98 mayor posts, including that of the four biggest Danish cities.
Frank Jensen from the Social Democrats was re-elected for the mayor of Copenhagen, the capital city of the country. Copenhagen has only had a social democrat mayor since the position was created in 1938.
In the second largest city Aarhus, the Social Democrats' sitting mayor Jacob Bundsgaard succeeded in re-election and was again the top scorer in the election with 39,841 individual votes.
The five regional councils election around Denmark was also held on Tuesday. Social Democrats grasped four out of five regional council chairman posts, while the Liberal Party gained only one.
"It appears that we will get over the line with a gain in mayoral positions. It appears we will not only be the largest party but also see excellent growth," Mette Frederiksen told Danish public broadcaster DR.
Despite the election defeat, Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said on Tuesday night that he was relatively satisfied with the result.
"Everything suggests that we have had a sound election. Looking at the percentages we are at pretty much the same level as we had last time, where we got around a quarter of the votes," Rasmussen told DR.
According to Roger Buch, a researcher from the Danish School of Media and Journalism, it is the worst result for Venstre since 1989.
"You can almost call it historically bad when you need to go back for more than 25 years to find a worse result," Buch was quoted as saying by Danish news agency Ritzau.
The government's ally Danish People's Party saw its vote share slip 1.3 percent to 8.8 percent, contrary to some predictions ahead of the elections.
The voter turnout was 70.8 percent, slightly lower than the record high of 71.9 percent in 2013.
On Tuesday, Danes went to 1,387 polling stations across the country to elect representatives of local parliaments and city councils.
More than 11,000 candidates contested 2,432 seats in 98 municipal councils and 205 seats in five regional councils through two elections on the same day.
Under Danish laws, local municipalities are responsible for daily local administration and public service while welfare and healthcare are the main focuses of regional councils.
Local elections in Denmark are held every four years on the third Tuesday in November. Statistics show that since 1970 the turnout for the local elections has been stable at around 70 percent.
The Liberal Party won 46 out of all 98 mayor posts in 2013 elections , while the Social Democrats gained 35 mayoral posts.