The Danish Local Elections Matter – Also for Foreigners
Suddenly the streets are cluttered with election campaign posters again and we start to get to know lots of new faces and names. The unusual aspect to these elections is that many non-Danes are able to participate in them. On November 21st we get to vote for the local and regional governments in Denmark. Given the significant tax burden of living in Denmark and the fact that local authorities have direct control of much of this expenditure then it is definitely worth participating in these elections. The local authorities in Denmark manage day care and nurseries for children as well as schools, hospitals, old age homes, roads, parking, cycle lanes, refuse collection and recycling, the planting of trees and maintenance of parks among many other things so the elections matter.
I have always been active politically but moving to Denmark I was confronted with a host of new parties to chose from. I grew up in the 1980s in the UK where there were relatively few parties and only a two who would ever form a national or local government. In Denmark I found that I could chose a party that perfectly suited my interests. If you want a party that is anti-immigration, wants to promote traditional Danish culture and values, is anti-EU and has an emphasis on funding old age homes you have a clear choice. If you prioritise the environment, are pro-EU and pro-immigration and you believe that Denmark should welcome refugees then you have another clear choice. One useful tool is to go ahead and use one of the several candidate tests that are online such as this one on the DR website: https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/politik/kv17/kandidat-testen
Although everything in Denmark may seem quite disconnected from your personal life, by answering the questions you may feel that you have more opinions on how your local government should function than you would think. After 9 years in Denmark, I feel quite confident in how to vote to the point where I get involved in putting up election posters and distributing pamphlets for a friend who is a candidate.
If you have the right to vote in Denmark, then I would strongly recommend you to exercise this right. Voter participation is relatively high in Denmark, precisely because the array of parties to choose from is wide and people feel that their voting decision can have a direct influence on how local governments are run.