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Deep Focus | The best face wins, but do we?


Sick of the South London smog, fledgling comedy agent turned journalist Luke Richardson moved to these hygge Scandinavian pastures back in 2011. Fuelled on pastries, overpriced coffee and a futile desire to assimilate, Luke takes aim at the impact and implications of Danish culture across the world.

May 17, 2014
06:59

by Luke Richardson


Regardless of how politically inclined you are, you’ll no doubt be aware that we are currently in the midst of the slog leading up to the various EU parliamentary elections at the end of May.

Instead of highlighting the brilliant things the costly supranational union has brought us local folk (not least, the price sanctions enforced to keep inter-European data roaming and telecommunications at an all-time low), the spectacle is squandered by media coverage, berating the necessity for a slipperily-defined political region ‘united in diversity’ in the first place.

I'm not a poster boy
Begrudgingly, I’ve had to sideline my penchant for making fools out of Eurosceptics this year due to an annoying, perhaps more pressing local issue that continues to frustrate me during every political election in Denmark.

Best posed as a question: what is it with all these unnecessary party campaign posters?

You know the ones. Emblazoned on lampposts, tree trunks, bridges and seemingly anywhere else politicians can get their hands on, you can’t go anywhere in Copenhagen without seeing these paper placards. 

Not only are they environmentally injurious, they make the capital city – already crippled by vast amounts of urban development – even more ugly. 

At their most effective, the posters – usually clad with political party branding, a motto and a mugshot of an opportunistic, would-be MEP – provide free canvases for up-and-coming graffiti artists to reinterpret and defile.

And who says that politicians don’t understand the arts?

May the best face win 
With decorum, beauty and the environment usually considered as secondary issues within a capitalist democracy, the parties’ last-ditch attempts to remind constituents to vote with a bit of poster eye-candy would be pardoned if the propagandising advertisements themselves had a genuine ability to re-energise the thousands (potentially millions) of politically apathetic Danes who won’t bother casting a vote come May 25.

Like most political discourse, this is a dilemma with an improbable solution.

A wide-eyed, subservient optimist would probably be pro-poster but, as a sceptic, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that these adverts not only fail to encourage a serious political debate about the pros and cons of the European Union, but turn the whole process of an election into a superficial popularity contest.

The best face wins, or at least it tries to, but the guileless electorate are the biggest losers.

A Fabian in Frederiksberg
Perhaps I’m being too pessimistic – an outlook that has no doubt been inspired by my status as a lefty Fabian living in Denmark’s conservative, segregationist epicentre: Frederiksberg. 

With this being my first EU election since moving to Denmark, it’s a very bitter pill to swallow knowing how little my vote counts, but it nevertheless doesn’t quash my desire to cast it.

It’s just a shame that, come the 25th, my merry cycle to the ballot box will be tarnished by the smug mugs of Denmark’s political right laughing back at me in disgust.