Konservative slumps to same level as Liberal Alliance: surely it’s time for Pape to give up on PM dream?

Two scandals and two different responses: could Poulsen learn something about the way Alex Vanopslagh has taken “full responsibility” and retained the public’s respect?

Pressure is mounting on Konservative leader Søren Pape Poulsen to withdraw his candidacy to become the next prime minister after a dismal showing in the latest Epinion poll for DR.

Conducted on October 20, it reveals that Konservative is running exactly equal with Blue Bloc stable-mate Liberal Alliance. Both would receive 7 percent of the public vote were an election held today.

Just two months ago, Konservative had a 16.7 percent share compared to just 3.1 percent for LA, but the last two months have been unkind to Poulsen, with the public not responding positively to the announcement of his divorce just days after the media questioned the veracity of claims made by his husband.

Staying put, remaining positive
Konservative political spokesperson Mette Abildgaard confirmed to DR that Poulsen will not be withdrawing his candidacy.

“Søren Pape Poulsen is in every possible way our candidate for prime minister. That hasn’t changed one iota,” she told DR.

“But it is clear, if you look at the opinion polls right now, it may well look more difficult than it has been so far.” 

Abildgaard is dismayed by the slump in the polls but retains some optimism: “We have quite a lot of talented candidates out in the country. We haven’t given up hope, but of course it’s hard.”

Liberal Alliance flying high despite its own scandal
Liberal Alliance leader Alex Vanopslagh, meanwhile, is delighted. The recent gain represents Liberal Alliance’s best performance in a poll in six years.

“It is fantastic,” he said. “But let’s see what happens. There’s still a week left of the election campaign, and the polls can be wrong, so I don’t want to cheer too early. Nevertheless, it gives you a boost and some extra motivation.”

Vanopslagh has had his own scandal to deal with. Information recently reported that he has not spent enough time at his flat in the mid-Jutland town of Struer to warrant his MP candidacy being based there. In reality he spends most of his time in Copenhagen at a flat provided to him by Parliament, although his right to the flat is also disputed by the newspaper. Vanopslagh acknowledges he only spends 60-80 days a year in Struer and he takes “full responsibility”.

Lars Løkke remains in charge
As things stand, the Blue Bloc only have 75 mandates, 15 shy of the number they need for a majority. But with Moderates onboard, they would have 93. 

Moderates leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen has said he would like to team up with parties across the middle and include Socialdemokratiet, the party of PM Mette Frederiksen.

But as Vanopslagh said, a week can be a long time in politics. Denmark heads to the polls on Tuesday November 1.

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