DF wants to take away foreigners’ right to vote

Party says that only citizens should be able to vote in local and regional elections

If you are a foreigner living in Denmark, Dansk Folkeparti (DF) wants to take away your right to vote.

The current voting rules stipulate that foreigners who have lived in Denmark for four years can vote in local and regional elections. The government has proposed dropping that to three years, but according to Ekstra Bladet, DF would rather have foreigners not vote at all.

The party’s integration spokesperson, Martin Henriksen, told the tabloid that only citizens should be allowed to vote.

“Today, you need to be a Danish citizen to vote in parliamentary elections,” Henriksen said. “That is a reasonable rule and we would like to expand that to include local and regional elections.”

Under the current rules citizens of Nordic countries are permitted to vote in local and regional elections immediately upon moving to Denmark, and Henriksen said DF would be willing to continue to allow them to do so.

Henriksen’s proposal was not greeted warmly by the governing parties.

Liv Holm Andersen, the integration spokesperson for Radikale (R), told The Copenhagen Post that DF’s proposal goes against democratic principles.

“For me it is about democratic inclusion, which is about getting as many people to vote as possible, and as many different types of people voting as possible,” Andersen said. “It’s essential to vote in local elections because it affects schools, daycare and other issues that are important to all of us. It is a misconception that you can only be a part of society if you are citizen. If you have a job, send your kids to daycare and so on, you are a part of society and should have the right to vote.”

Simon Kollerup, a spokesperson for Socialdemokraterne (S), told Ekstra Bladet that DF’s proposal would have a negative impact on integration.

“Dansk Folkeparti is apparently not very happy that people who move to Denmark and are a part of society also take part in local democracy,” Kollerup told Ekstra Bladet. “I don’t know what planet Martin Henriksen is on. Does DF really want fewer people to participate in local democracy?”

While DF has a pretty clear track record regarding its attitudes towards foreigners, Henriksen’s proposal may be as much about winning elections as it is immigration. A poll from March indicated that non-ethnic Danes clearly favoured the governing, left-of-centre parties. Out of 1,028 respondents to the Voxmeter poll, 34 percent said they would vote for S, and 17 percent would support Socialistisk Folkeparti (SF).   

But Andersen called it undemocratic that DF would attempt to limit the voting rights of individuals that are likely to vote against them. She also said that the party’s history of policies and rhetoric aimed at foreigners made the poll numbers unsurprising.

“If the right wing would treat minorities with respect, that would change,” Andersen told The Copenhagen Post. “But of course those results would make sense if the right-wing’s hostile attitude toward foreigners continues.”