There are three types of elections in Denmark: elections to the national parliament (the Folketing), local elections (to municipal and regional councils), and elections to the European Parliament. Referendums may also be called to consult the Danish citizenry directly on an issue of national concern.
Parliamentary elections are called by the Monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister, usually three to four years after the last election, although early elections may occur. Elections to local councils (municipal or regional) and to the European Parliament are held on fixed dates. Elections use the party-list proportional representation system. All Danish citizens, living in the Kingdom of Denmark and at least 18 years of age, are eligible to vote in parliamentary elections and long-time residents may vote in local elections.
The Kingdom of Denmark (including the Faroe Islands and Greenland) elects a unicameral parliament, the Folketing, on a national level. Of the 179 members of parliament, the Faroe Islands and Greenland elect two members each, 135 are elected from ten multi-member constituencies on a party list PR system using the d'Hondt method and the remaining 40 seats are allocated to ensure proportionality at a national level. To get a share of supplementary seats a party needs to get at least 2% of the total number of votes.
Only parties that reach any one of three thresholds stipulated by section 77 of the Folketing (Parliamentary) Elections Act—winning at least one constituency seat; obtaining at least the Hare quota (valid votes in province/number of constituency seats in province) in two of the three provinces; or obtaining at least 2% of the national vote—may compete for compensatory seats.
Denmark has a multi-party system, with numerous parties in which no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments and/or minority cabinets.
Elections to the Folketing must be held at least every four years.
Main article: List of members of the Folketing, 2019–2022
Overall the election was a win for the "red bloc" – the parties that supported Mette Frederiksen, leader of the Social Democrats, as Prime Minister. In total, the Social Democrats, the Social Liberals, Socialist People's Party and the Red–Green Alliance won 91 seats. Green party The Alternative chose to go into opposition as a "green bloc".
The Social Democrats defended their position as the largest party, and won an additional seat despite a slightly reduced voter share. They were closely followed by Venstre, who saw the largest gains in seats, picking up an extra nine. In the "blue bloc", only Venstre and the Conservative People's Party saw gains, the latter doubling their seats. The Danish People's Party's vote share fell by 12.4 percentage points (pp), well over half of their support. Leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl speculated that the bad result was due to an extraordinary good election in 2015, and that some voters felt they could "gain [their] policy elsewhere". The Liberal Alliance saw their vote share fall by over two-thirds and became the smallest party in the Folketing, only 0.3pp above the 2% election threshold. Their leader Anders Samuelsen was not reelected and he subsequently resigned as leader, succeeded by Alex Vanopslagh.
Of the new parties, only New Right won seats, with Hard Line, the Christian Democrats and Klaus Riskær Pedersen failing to cross the national 2% threshold, although the Christian Democrats were within 200 votes of winning a direct seat in the western Jutland constituency. On election night, Klaus Riskær Pedersen announced that he would dissolve his party.
In the Faroe Islands, Republic (which had finished first in the 2015 elections) dropped to fourth place and lost their seat. The Union Party replaced them as the first party while the Social Democratic Party finished in second place again, retaining their seat. In Greenland, the result was a repeat of the 2015 elections, with Inuit Ataqatigiit and Siumut winning the two seats. Siumut regained parliamentary representation after their previous MP, Aleqa Hammond, was expelled from the party in 2016. Hammond later joined Nunatta Qitornai, which finished fourth and failed to win a seat.
|Danish People's Party||308,513||8.74||16||–21|
|Danish Social Liberal Party||304,714||8.63||16||+8|
|Socialist People's Party||272,304||7.71||14||+7|
|Conservative People's Party||233,865||6.62||12||+6|
|Klaus Riskær Pedersen||29,600||0.84||0||New|
|Social Democratic Party||6,640||25.55||1||0|
|Source: Statistics Denmark, Kringvarp Føroya, Qinersineq|
The following is the number of constituency seats for each party with each asterix (*) indicating one of the seats won was a levelling seat.
Further information: 2021 Danish local elections
The latest elections for the ninety-eight municipal councils and the five regional councils were held on 16 November 2021.
The Denmark constituency directly elects thirteen members to the European Parliament every five years. The d'Hondt method of proportional representation is used. The last elections took place in May 2019:
Main article: European Parliament election, 2019 (Denmark)
The Constitution of Denmark requires a referendum to be held in the following three cases:
The option for one third of the members of the Parliament to put a law to a referendum has a number of restrictions. Finance Bills, Supplementary Appropriation Bills, Provisional Appropriation Bills, Government Loan Bills, Civil Servants (Amendment) Bills, Salaries and Pensions Bills, Naturalization Bills, Expropriation Bills, Taxation (Direct and Indirect) Bills, as well as Bills introduced for the purpose The Work of Parliament of discharging existing treaty obligations shall not be decided by a referendum. (Section 42, Subsection 6 of the Constitution)
Even though the Constitution of Denmark requires referendum to be held only if super-majority of five-sixths of members of Parliament cannot be obtained, in practice, referendums have been held every time new treaties of the European Union have been approved, even when more than five-sixths can be found. Recently, the Danish government was highly criticized when it did not hold a referendum regarding the controversial Lisbon treaty.
In all three cases, to defeat the proposition the no votes must not only outnumber the yes votes, they must also number at least 30% of the electorate.
The Constitution of Denmark can be changed only through the procedure set out in Section 88 of the Constitution. First, the government has to propose a change in constitution, then a parliamentary election is held. After the new parliament approves the same text of the constitutional changes, the proposal is put to a referendum. To pass, the yes votes must not only outnumber the no votes, they must also number at least 40% of the electorate.
Of the 19 referendums held in Denmark, the most recent are the 2015 referendum on ending the opt-out from the European Union justice laws and the 2022 referendum on ending the opt-out from the European Union security and military framework.
Main article: Danish parliamentary election, 2015
|Danish People's Party||741,746||21.08||37||+15|
|Danish Social Liberal Party||161,009||4.58||8||–9|
|Socialist People's Party||147,578||4.19||7||–9|
|Conservative People's Party||118,003||3.35||6||–2|
|Social Democratic Party||5,670||24.27||1||0|
Main article: Danish parliamentary election, 2011
|Danish People's Party||436,726||12.32||22||−3|
|Danish Social Liberal Party||336,698||9.50||17||+8|
|Socialist People's Party||326,192||9.20||16||−7|
|Conservative People's Party||175,047||4.94||8||−10|
|Social Democratic Party||4,332||20.95||1||+1|
|Source: Danmarks Statistik|
Main article: Danish parliamentary election, 2007
|Danish People's Party||479,532||13.86||25||+1|
|Socialist People's Party||450,975||13.04||23||+12|
|Conservative People's Party||359,404||10.39||18||0|
|Danish Social Liberal Party||177,161||5.12||9||–8|
|Social Democratic Party||4,702||20.39||0||0|
|Source: Danmarks Statistik, Nohen & Stöver|
|Party||Votes||% of votes||MPs||swing||% of MPs||MPs %/votes %|