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Swing municipalities, sure things and surprising honesty at the 2021 Local Elections

Lone Pilgaard Sørensen, the Socialdemokratiet mayor candidate in Lemvig, where Venstre has held power for 47 years, is refreshingly realistic about her chances of an upset

By now, thanks to the huge interest in Barack Obama and Donald Trump’s campaigns, we all know what swing states are.

Months before every US election, you can safely colour in over half the map with either red or blue. 

States with huge city areas will be blue and mostly rural areas will be red.

Only occasionally will someone buck the trend – like Ronald Reagan in California in 1980, where the Republican had been the former mayor.

Shortage of ‘swing states’
Well, heading towards the local and regional elections on Tuesday November 16, Denmark is not much different, reports DR.

In 41 of the country’s 98 municipalities the party of the presiding mayor has not changed over the last 16 years.

To prove the point, TV2 Midt-Vest caught up with the Socialdemokratiet candidate for mayor in Lemvig in west Jutland, a safe Venstre seat, at her local Kvickly over the weekend.

Did Lone Pilgaard Sørensen have a chance of unseating the blue bloc.

“Neee-hej,” she laughed, which roughly translates as “Not on your nelly!”

“I’m not Comical Ali”
The good humour continued with a reference to Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, the former media and foreign affairs minister for Iraq.

“I would be Comical Ali if I stood here and said that Socialdemocratiet will have the mayoral post after the next election,” she said.

“For me to win, the citizens of Lemvig Municipality would have to do something completely different.”

The incumbent mayor, Erik Flyvholm, has been in power since 2007 – and his party Venstre for 47 years.  It holds 12 of the 21 seats on the municipal council.

Homogenous homies
Ulrik Kjær, a municipal researcher at the University of Southern Denmark, attributes the situation across Denmark as an indicator of how homogenous communities are.

“In many places, we live door-to-door with people who are similar to ourselves,” she explained.

“There are some mayoral candidates whose only hope is finding voters in the other parties’ core voter groups. It’s tough!”

The only excitement in a lot of municipalities, she concluded, is seeing how big the margin of victory is.

Not unprecedented
But could Sørensen pull off a Ronnie?

In the early 1990s, Socialdemokratiet candidate Hilmar Sølund unseated the Venstre mayor – a seat the party had held for 77 years.

And another upset occurred in Aarhus in 2002, when Venstre candidate Louise Gade unseated the long-standing Socialdemokratiet mayor.

Sørensen says no, not this year, but that she is more optimistic about 2025!