Popularity of ‘Luxury Lars’ plummets but Venstre stems bleeding

Despite the approval rating of its embattled leader dropping drastically, Venstre has managed to halt its own fall in the polls

Constant media coverage of lavish first class trips and over-spending have had a major effect on the approval rating of opposition leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen (V).

The approval rating of the former prime minister plummeted by 32 points – from 11 to -23 – in just one month, according to a survey composed by Epinion for DR Nyheder. The rating is based on a formula in which the percentage of negative opinions of Rasmussen were subtracted from the percent of positive opinions. The -23 result means that the majority of voters have a negative opinion of the Venstre leader.

”In the three years that Epinion and DR Nyheder have measured the popularity of politicians, we have never seen such a dramatic fall in such a short time,” DR analyst Kenneth Thue told DR Nyheder. “Big changes usually occur over a period of four to six months.”

READ MORE: A first-class scandal for 'Luxury Lars'

Living the high life
Rasmussen’s nosedive in popularity comes after weeks of media scrutiny on the 770,000 kroner he spent on first-class travel while head of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), a tax-payer funded climate organisation. He also made headlines for perceived elitist remarks in parliament in which he compared 2,000 kroner to the price of a pair of shoes.

In Epinion surveys over the past year, around 60 percent of the population had a positive opinion of Rasmussen, but that fell to 30 percent in the latest survey. Meanwhile, the number of Danes who had a negative opinion of Rasmussen rose from 39 percent to 53 percent.

READ MORE: 'Luxury Lars' down but not out after travel expense apology

Venstre mends sinking ship
While the media’s revelations of Rasmussen’s exuberant lifestyle has led to Venstre losing voter support, a new survey by Megafon compiled for Politiken newspaper and TV2 showed that the party has managed to halt its downward spiral.

The survey showed that Venstre experienced a 0.3 percent jump in the polls this week and that the party has managed to consolidate its position atop the poll standings.

“I am really pleased for the backing that Venstre has, and there is no doubt that the past few weeks – in which there has been a lot of focus on things other than our policies – have influenced the voters,” Ellen Trane Nørby, the political spokesperson for Venstre, told Politiken. “That’s only natural.”

It’s the first time that Venstre rose in the polls since September. The party lost 4.1 percent in the polls over the past month before this week’s reversal.

READ MORE: Development minister aware of climate organisation’s questionable spending

DF makes huge poll jump
With the small jump, Venstre is backed by 25.5 percent of the voters in Denmark, which is down from 26.7 percent received in the parliamentary elections in September 2011. The opposition party still ranks higher than the prime minister's Socialdemokraterne, which came in second place with 21.7 percent support.

Far-right party Dansk Folkeparti has made the biggest jump since the 2011 elections, rising from 12.3 to 18.9 percent.

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