Did far-right Danish party break rules to qualify for election?

The Danish interior ministry could stop extremist far-right party Stram Kurs from gathering election nominations amid suspicions of foul play.

Did far-right Danish party break rules to qualify for election?
Stram Kurs placards at the Danish parliament on the evening of the 2019 general election. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The Ministry of Social Affairs and The Interior says that Stram Kurs (‘Hard Line’ in English) may have broken rules in order to secure the required number of citizens’ nominations to participate in this year’s general election.

Electoral law in Denmark requires 20,000 such nominations or declarations – termed vælgererklæringer in Danish – for a party to be included on ballot papers.

The ministry is to intervene in Stram Kurs' further collection gathering of nominations due to a suspected breach of the law, DR reports.

In doing so, the Ministry will apply for the first time a new law that was passed shortly after the election to prevent circumvention of the rules relating to electoral nominations.

READ ALSO: Should Denmark make it harder for new parties to enter elections?

“At the last election, several parties openly circumvented the rules on voter declarations, but at that time it was not possible to intervene,” Minister of Social Affairs and the Interior Astrid Krag said in a statement.

“We have worked to ensure loopholes in the system are closed and we are now using the new resources which are supported by all of parliament,” Krag added.

According to the law, an electoral board must decide whether to suspend Stram Kurs' collection of citizens’ nominations.

The ministry has instructed the board to make this assessment.

According to the ministry, Stram Kurs used both e-mail addresses that the party was not authorized to use and also reused e-mail addresses within the declaration system.

In the June general election, Stram Kurs were widely tipped to enter parliament but eventually fell short of the 2 percent vote threshold needed for parliamentary representation.

The party is led by Rasmus Paludan, an Islamophobic agitator who has a criminal conviction for inciting racial hatred. Judicial authorities have denied Paludan’s wish to appeal the conviction at the High Court.

READ ALSO: Why Danish free speech is not a free pass for Quran burning

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Norway flirts with the idea of a ‘mini Brexit’ in election campaign

On paper, Norway's election on Monday looks like it could cool Oslo's relationship with the European Union but analysts say that appearances may be deceiving.

Norway flirts with the idea of a 'mini Brexit' in election campaign
The Centre Party's leader Slagsvold Vedum has called for Norway's relationship with the European Union to be renegotiated. Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB / AFP

After eight years of a pro-European centre-right government, polls suggest the Scandinavian country is headed for a change of administration.

A left-green coalition in some shape or form is expected to emerge victorious, with the main opposition Labour Party relying on the backing of several eurosceptic parties to obtain a majority in parliament.

In its remote corner of Europe, Norway is not a member of the EU but it is closely linked to the bloc through the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement.

The deal gives Norway access to the common market in exchange for the adoption of most European directives.

Both the Centre Party and the Socialist Left — the Labour Party’s closest allies, which together have around 20 percent of voter support — have called for the marriage of convenience to be dissolved.

“The problem with the agreement we have today is that we gradually transfer more and more power from the Storting (Norway’s parliament), from Norwegian lawmakers to the bureaucrats in Brussels who are not accountable,” Centre Party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum said in a recent televised debate.


Defending the interests of its rural base, the Centre Party wants to replace the EEA with trade and cooperation agreements.

However, Labour leader Jonas Gahr Store, who is expected to become the next prime minister, does not want to jeopardise the country’s ties to the EU, by far Norway’s biggest trading partner.

“If I go to my wife and say ‘Look, we’ve been married for years and things are pretty good, but now I want to look around to see if there are any other options out there’… Nobody (in Brussels) is going to pick up the phone” and be willing to renegotiate the terms, Gahr Store said in the same debate.

Running with the same metaphor, Slagsvold Vedum snapped back: “If your wife were riding roughshod over you every day, maybe you would react.”

EU a ‘tough negotiating partner’

Initially, Brexit gave Norwegian eurosceptics a whiff of hope. But the difficulties in untangling British-EU ties put a damper on things.

“In Norway, we saw that the EU is a very tough negotiating partner and even a big country like Britain did not manage to win very much in its negotiations,” said Ulf Sverdrup, director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.

While Norwegians have rejected EU membership twice, in referendums in 1972 and 1994, a majority are in favour of the current EEA agreement.

During the election campaign, the EU issue has gradually been pushed to the back burner as the Centre Party — which briefly led in the polls — has seen its support deflate.

The nature of Norway’s relationship to the bloc will depend on the distribution of seats in parliament, but experts generally agree that little is likely to change.

“The Labour Party will surely be firm about the need to maintain the EEA agreement,” said Johannes Bergh, political scientist at the Institute for Social Research, “even if that means making concessions to the other parties in other areas”.

Closer cooperation over climate?

It’s possible that common issues, like the fight against climate change, could in fact bring Norway and the EU even closer.

“Cooperation with the EU will very likely become stronger because of the climate issue” which “could become a source of friction” within the next coalition, Sverdrup suggested.

“Even though the past 25 years have been a period of increasingly close cooperation, and though we can therefore expect that it will probably continue, there are still question marks” surrounding Norway’s future ties to the EU, he said.

These likely include the inclusion and strength of eurosceptics within the future government as well as the ability of coalition partners to agree on all EU-related issues.

Meanwhile, Brussels is looking on cautiously. The EEA agreement is “fundamental” for relations between the EU and its
partners Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, according to EU spokesman Peter Stano.

But when it comes to the rest, “we do not speculate on possible election outcomes nor do we comment on different party positions.”