Local Elections 2021: A taxing process, for sure

Internationals feel comfortable about voting: particularly if they are contributing to society

(photo: Lena Hunter)
November 13th, 2021 4:49 pm| by Marius Rolland
Facebooktwitterpinterestmail

The sentiment “no taxation without representation” has been popping up a fair bit in the build-up to the American War of Independence … sorry, local and regional elections on November 16.

David Zepernick, a Radikale councillor in Frederiksberg who passionately wants more foreigners to exercise their right to vote, is fond of the sentiment.

And so were pretty much half of the internationals we caught up with this past week on the streets of Copenhagen.

Not all of them are intending to vote – particularly the ones who have only been here a matter of weeks or months.

But there seemed to be genuine consensus that tax-payers should have the right to vote.

Call this a declaration!
After all, that was the argument of the 13 American states pressing for independence from the British Empire in the 1770s. They were sick of paying over the pond and not getting a say in how the pounds were spent.

And in Denmark too – not that they’re planning a revolution – internationals would appear to agree that they should be entitled to vote as tax-payers, providing they can make a well-informed decision.

So, the same argument also applies to national elections, which foreigners are barred from voting in.

Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we should feel privileged that we’ve enjoyed this right since 1980.

Will full enfranchisement follow? Watch this space!


Alexandre Collier
Nationality: French
Age: 39

Are you eligible to vote? 
I just searched on the internet and I discovered that I have the right to vote. It’s really a good thing to let all citizens, even foreigners, choose their representative. It’s exemplary, and not like in Paris.

What gives you the legal right? 
I am a permanent resident from an EU member state.

Will you vote? 
With pleasure.

Why do you want to vote? 
It is like a gift from the Danes. I have to honour it, it is very touching.

What key issues will influence your vote? 
I am very sensitive to ecology, so of course that will be the most important issue.

How do you find out about politics in Denmark? 
The Local and now I find out about CPH POST.

Why is it important for foreigners to vote? 
The Danes trust foreigners by giving them the right to vote. It is so benevolent that it is important to respect this trust. 

What can they bring to the vote? 
Perhaps they can bring a more global view of the issues and put it into perspective. 

Would you like to see more foreigners represented? 
I’m not sure it’s important – maybe for foreigners with a very different culture for a better understanding, integration and cohabitation.

To what extent do you think candidates engage with foreigners? 
I haven’t looked into this yet as I just found out I could vote. (I have only been here for three months.)

What do you think about some right-wing parties saying that foreigners should be excluded from voting? 
This would be a step backwards, so it is not constructive at all.


Fabian Sokolowski
Nationality: German
Age: 24

How did you find out that you have the right to vote?
I just read it on Facebook, because there were people talking about it. How could I vote, I thought, when I am only staying in Copenhagen? And my own situation is that I’ve been living in Copenhagen now for one month, and I will stay here for a whole year. I’m studying free arts at the Royal Academy on an exchange from Germany. 

Do you feel comfortable about voting?
Actually, no. I don’t plan on voting. I’m just a guest in this country. And I don’t know that much about the political situation. And so therefore, I felt quite strange that I could vote. Sure, from the perspective of the EU, it might affect me, and also regarding international relations, but I still have a feeling that the people here know better than myself, so they should be the ones to vote.

How do you find out about politics?
I don’t really. I read the news, for example, about the kinds of islands they want to build to get a broad perspective, but not especially Danish politics..

Do you think that it is important for foreigners to take an interest? 
Obviously, I think they should educate themselves about the situation. I think they can bring a different perspective that is not so set in stone.

So, do you think some of them should vote. Like those who work here who want a say in how their tax is spent?
Yes, that’s true. Besides that, I don’t really know how many elections take place here. If it’s once a year, every two years or four years. If I moved here a few months ago, then I would like the opportunity to vote.

Would you like to see more foreigners represented?
All foreigners who have a residency here should be allowed to vote. It’s quite good to get them to vote, I think there should be campaigns to encourage them. 

If you were voting, what would be the key issues?
Housing and housing prices. The economy and climate change. Not too right-wing. Pro human rights, not too radical.

What do you think about some right-wing parties saying that foreigners should be excluded from voting? 
That sounds like a statement from a party that wants to protect its country from the burden of foreigners. But it’s far more complex than that, so that’s a sad position to take. It’s happening in a lot of countries right now, mostly as a result of the pandemic. I would definitely be against excluding foreigners.


Birta Gunnarsdottir
Nationality: Iceland
Age: 23

 Would you feel comfortable voting? 
I wouldn’t vote. I’m not informed enough. So I’m not gonna just vote for anything. If I had the time to do some research, to learn more about it, I would.

Do you already know a little bit about politics in Denmark?
Not really. I haven’t been here that long. I’m just two weeks into a 10-month stay.

Do you think it is important for foreigners to vote? 
I think everyone’s opinion counts. It’s logical. It helps integration as well. But if you haven’t been here that long, maybe it’s better not to. Really, it surprises me that I can vote.

Would you like to see more foreign representatives in local government? 
Yeah, I do. I’ve noticed that there are people here from all over the world, even at the school I’m going to. And I feel like we are welcome here.

If you were voting, what would the key issues be?
Regarding the environment. In Iceland, they don’t really focus enough on saving the planet.

What do you think about some right-wing parties saying that foreigners should be excluded from voting? 
I get their point if they’re talking about people like me. I’m not staying for too long. I mean, I wouldn’t be hurt if I wasn’t allowed to vote. But I think that everyone’s opinion matters when it comes to politics. So I don’t support that. Everyone should be able to vote.


Manuel Fernandez
Nationality: Portuguese
Age: 46

Do you feel comfortable voting?
Yes, because I live here. It’s only been three months, but I think I have the right to decide my future. 

What do you think about politics in Denmark? 
I think there is too much anti-immigration sentiment. And I disagree with that.

Is it important for you that foreigners can vote. What can they bring to the voting process? 
If foreigners are working here, paying taxes here like the Danes, paying the same prices in the supermarket, on the Metro, living similar lives, why don’t we have the same rights to vote? I think our participation is a sign of integration. 

What key issues will you probably be influenced by? 
Same Democracy. Same rights. Equality. 

What do you think about some right-wing parties saying that foreigners should be excluded from voting? 
It’s double standards. When these parties see foreigners contributing by cleaning their streets, making beds in the hotels or working in construction, it’s okay. But if they want to vote … then it’s suddenly a problem!


Isaac Tarek
Nationality: French
Age: 32

Do you have the right to vote? 
Yes, I have the right to vote because I’m a resident, a European citizen and am over the age of 18. I’ve been living in Denmark for two years and try every day to be more informed about it, although I’m more interested in the French elections because it’s the country where I’m from. I think it’s quite natural.

Will you be voting? Why do you want to vote? Or why not ?
Even though I’ve lived there for two years, I don’t think I have enough perspective about the city to be sure what to vote for. Even if there is a wide range of candidates. And, to be honest, Denmark seems so nice and peaceful, with few burning problems to resolve, beyond the visual pollution imposed by the posters of the candidates on the streets! Anyhow, I hope to get enough information to make the best choice according to my convictions.

How do you find out about politics in Denmark? How much do you talk about Danish politics in your daily life? 
I’m really interested in politics so I speak about it with friends, Danish or not, when I have the opportunity. It’s interesting to have diverse points of view concerning Danish political decisions, for example immigration. I’m a foreigner but I come from the European Union. I know things are not so easy for foreigners coming from the Middle East or Africa, for example.

Do you already know what your voting intentions are? And what key issues will influence your vote?
No, not yet. Regarding key issues … construction projects, education, social affairs, help for small and medium-sized companies.  

How do you source information about DK politics? 
Internet. I read and listen to DR and watch videos on YouTube. It helps me to improve my Danish language. I sometimes read the municipality magazine and The Copenhagen Post is also a good source of information concerning Denmark. Also, I try to get more information about the candidates/political parties from their websites. 

Why is it important for foreigners to vote? 
To vote means participating in the life of the city.  For foreigners, it’s another way to get involved. They bring fresh ideas and opinions to the political debate. But, of course, there are other ways of getting involved: organisations, projects, volunteer work etc …

Would you like to see more foreigners represented? 
I would like to see more foreigners represented if they want to be represented. 

What do you think about some right-wing parties saying that foreigners should be excluded from voting? 
When a foreigner works and pays taxes in Denmark, he can’t be excluded from electoral events. Otherwise, it makes no sense. Either you participate fully in the life of the city, or not at all. They wouldn’t exclude foreigners from the payment of taxes, would they?


Martin O’Rourke
Nationality: Irish
Age: 54

Do you have the right to vote?
Yes

What gives you the legal right to vote?
EU member and residence in Denmark

Do you feel that your vote is legitimate?
In a legal sense, yes. In an informed sense, not particularly

Will you be voting?
Perhaps if I can get my head around the issues. I come at this from the perspective of a non-Dane who has a Chinese wife so always inherently lean towards pro-immigration, left-leaning parties.

Why do you want to vote?
I do want to vote, but as of yet know nothing about the process logistically.

How do you find out about politics in Denmark?
A bit of online research and The Copenhagen Post. 

Why is it important for foreigners to vote?
If there are parties that explicitly or implicitly act against the interests of whichever part of the world you come from, it is important to give support to those more sympathetic to your needs and requirements. That can range from everyday issues to much more life changing areas like permanent residence etc … Even if you don’t believe your vote matters, the principle of voting is extremely important if you believe inherently in democracy.

Would you like to see more foreigners represented?
Not sure. They could literally be represented by foreigners or by Danes sympathetic to their interests. I think the latter is fine. There are plenty of inclusive Danes among the populace.

To what extent do you think that candidates engage with foreigners?
Hard to say, but from my experience, very little.

What do you think about some right-wing parties saying that foreigners should be excluded from voting? 
This is the kind of slide into extremism that every non-Dane should be wary of and eager to counter. It’s populist nonsense designed to draw votes from the disaffected on the margins of society by scapegoating foreigners and particularly those of a non-EU origin when the answers may well be closer to home. Fortunately, I believe the vast majority of Danes also see through this kind of rhetoric.


Hrafnkell Birgisson
Nationality: Icelandic
Age: 52

Do you have the right to vote? Do you feel like a legitimate voter ?
As a resident here for the last 13 years and a father of two children in school in Denmark, I feel like a legitimate voter, despite being a struggling low income taxpayer.

Will you be voting? 
I will vote. I think everyone should do and use their rights and opportunity to influence politics and the future quality of life in their local community.

How do you find out about politics in Denmark?
I follow the news and the debate through different media.

Why is it important for foreigners to vote? What can they bring to the municipality? 
I think foreigners tend to underestimate their value as legitimate voters, often because they feel that their residency status is vulnerable and they may also lack confidence with the evaluation of the candidates. Foreigners add to a more holistic approach, evaluation and development of the community so it’s all about avoiding stagnation I guess. 

Would you like to see more foreigners represented? To what extent do you think that candidates engage with foreigners?
Yes. I would definitely like to see more candidates more clearly representing the increasing diverse minority of foreigners living in Denmark. I wonder if too many of the current candidates might be a bit disconnected from most foreigners. But, of course, some foreigners could do better at connecting themselves. Although I am sure that some potential voters are too busy with their everyday struggle to find out who this distant, seemingly sympathetic, smiling portrait stands for, who they have repeatedly been cycling past.

Do you already know what your voting intentions are? And what key issues will influence your vote?
I do have an idea for the future life in this city and I will likely pick candidates that appeal to me and my vision.

What do you think about some right-wing parties saying that foreigners should be excluded from voting? 
It is ridiculous to claim the exclusion of such an essential part of the society if it is really their intention. But I also think that if a foreigner isn’t interested in integration and continuity, it is questionable if they should be voting.

[related-posts posttype=post]