No means no! A bad night for the Danish government

The referendum saw voters responding with a definitive ‘no’ – but what does this have in store for Denmark and the rest of the EU?

Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s Venstre government has today come under fire from the five other parties that campaigned for a ‘yes’ vote in yesterday’s  referendum.

Accusing the government of getting too bogged down with questions of fiscal policy and police reforms, the other parties – Socialdemokraterne, SF, Radikale, Konservative and Alternativet – asserted it had spent too little time and resources on campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum.

“There were some key ministers who came very late to the game, because were busy in all sorts of other negotiations. This meant that the time to lead an election campaign was very short,” Nick Haekkerup, the foreign affairs spokesperson for Socialdemokraterne, was quoted in DR as saying.

Ida Auken from Radikale also tweeted some scathing criticism, saying: “Lars Løkke, you’ve had a huge defeat. Take it on yourself. You are the country’s prime minister.”

However, Venstre rejected the criticism.

“I think that Venstre led a good, objective and proper campaign. I also think that the other yes-parties led good campaigns, in which each sought to appeal to our groups of voters,” said Venstre spokesperson Jakob Ellemann-Jensen.

“I do not think it does anybody any good to point fingers at each other. Now we must look ahead and secure the next best option for Denmark.”

Influence beyond Danish shores 
There is now talk about how Denmark’s vote will affect Britain’s upcoming referendum.

The vote, which has so far received little attention in Britain, will soon gain increasing significance there, say experts.

The Financial Times Nordic correspondent Richard Milne predicted that the ‘no’ vote would be hailed by eurosceptics all over Europe.

“Denmark stands as an example of how voters could turn against the elite, even when a pro-European outcome was predicted before the election campaign began,” he wrote.

The so-called ‘Brexit’ contingent in the UK have been celebrating the vote – especially on social media, reported DR.

Where do we go now? 
Yesterday’s ‘no’ vote means that Denmark will drop out of Europol by 2017 – and Lars Løkke’s government is now scrambling to negotiate parallel agreements with the EU that won’t compromise Denmark’s ability to deal effectively with its partners in the matter of cross-border policing.

READ MORE: EU Commission: Will be “extremely difficult” for Denmark to continue in Europol

But while the parallel agreement is now a top priority, it could take years to negotiate – assuming it doesn’t run into problems. While Denmark has three other parallel agreements with the EU, a parallel agreement concerning Europol has no precedent, as it is an EU agency and not simply a legislative act.

Critics have argued that this referendum was too technical and about much more than just Denmark’s opt-in with regard to Europol. All this means that there may be another referendum in the future – one that focuses solely on whether or not Denmark should join Europol.

If a new referendum does arise, DF has stated very clearly that it needs to be designed differently – Danes may be willing to join Europol to help with cross-border policing, but they will only hand so much power over to Brussels.