Many new citizens voting for the first time today

Almost 7,000 people have received Danish citizenship since the last general election

As voters head to the ballot boxes today, they could be standing alongside some of the 7,000 first-time voters who have gained citizenship since the last general election.

“It is to be part of society, to be a whole person, to have influence,” one of the newbies, Hiba Faisal, told DR. “I am seen and heard and my voice does matter.”

Faisal is originally from Iraq and happy to live in a democratic country like Denmark. She came here 15 years ago to be with her husband, who had fled from Iraq.

Real democracy
Figures from Danmarks Statistik show that nearly 7,000 people have become citizens since the general election in 2011 and can now vote in today’s election. More than 82 percent of the new citizens come from a non-Western country.

“For me it will be a huge experience to participate in a democracy,” Julien Murhula, who is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, told DR. “Now I live in the 21st century.”

Murhula, who has been in Denmark for 12 years, said that despite its name, his home country is not a true democracy.

“I am 41 years old and I have never, never, never been allowed to decide,” he said.

Running down a dream
Murhula and Faisal, who have both become citizens within the past year, have previously voted in municipal elections where citizenship is not required.

“For me, the municipal elections hold little importance because it is in Parliament where decisions are made,” said Murhula.

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Mural said he has a dream of running for Parliament himself one day.