Loss of teacher support puts further pressure on government

A devastating poll following the teacher lockout is the latest blow against a government accused of abandoning its left-wing mandate

Teachers have lost faith in the government as a result of their conflict with the local government association, KL, which has left them locked out of their workplaces.

With the lockout now in its third week, a new poll of 1,072 teachers shows that their support of government parties has plummeted.

Before the 2011 election, 74 percent of teachers voted for one of the three government parties: Socialdemokraterne, Socialistisk Folkeparti and Radikale. Now a mere five percent of teachers say they would vote for one of the coalition parties.

Instead they are flocking to both the far-left party Enhedslisten (EL) and the far-right Dansk Folkeparti (DF). EL saw its support among teachers quadruple to 34 percent, while DF received the support of around ten percent of teachers, representing a nearly tenfold increase.

But alongside the exodus from the government parties is an apparent disillusionment with the political system as a whole. Around 33 percent of teachers said they would either spoil their vote or are unsure of who they’d vote for. Before the 2011 election, that number was one percent.

The government has consistently performed poorly in the polls almost immediately following their 2011 victory over the right-wing ‘blue block’ that had ruled Denmark since 2001.

Many left-wing voters argue that the government is pursuing liberal policies following its reform of student grants and unemployment benefits as well as its decision to cut corporate taxes from 25 percent to 22 percent.

But in an interview with weekly newsletter Ugebrevet A4, PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne) said that it would be an error to view the reforms in this way.

“It’s a left-wing position to take control of our economy, job creation and welfare,” Thorning-Schmidt said. “A strong economy with growth, jobs and controlled spending is a prerequisite for being able to redistribute and invest.”

Thorning-Schmidt won’t be using an opportunity on International Workers day on May 1 to sell this message to voters in Copenhagen, however, after it was announced that she wouldn’t be making a speech at the rally in Fælledparken as she had done for the past four years.

A Socialdemokraterne (S) spokesperson told DR News that Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen (S), who will be running for re-election in the autumn, would speak instead, as has been the case in the build up to the last two council elections.

The PM will instead be giving speeches in Aarhus and Aalborg on May 1 in an effort to convince voters in the Jutland cities why a vote for S is a vote for welfare.

“My job as a social democratic prime minister is to ensure Denmark survives the crisis with its welfare state intact,” she said. “I think voters fundamentally expect us to create jobs and keep control of spending in order to maintain a healthy welfare state. That’s exactly what we’re doing, so we will have to see if the voters reward it at the election.”

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