Both left-wing and right-wing Danish Eurosceptics have effectively abandoned their pursuit of a Brexit-style referendum on Denmark’s departure from the EU, leaving the People’s Movement Against the EU the last man standing.
The UK’s almost three-year-long Brexit ordeal with no clear result in sight appears to have left a mark on Danish politics, putting a damper on the hopes of Danexit or Dexit, as Denmark’s eventual divorce with the EU is often referred to.
In light of the UK’s tortuous road from the EU, both the right-wing Danish People’s Party and the left-wing Red-Green Alliance, the two most anti-EU parties in the Danish Parliament, have effectively put their desire for a Brexit-style referendum on hold, while retaining their critical attitude.
“Right now we don’t know what Brexit will evolve into and what the EU will look like when this large EU-critical country leaves the club”, Peter Kofod, the Danish People’s Party’s leading candidate for the European Parliament, told Danish Radio.
“In principle, I believe that at some point in the future Danes must be asked what their relationship with the EU should be. But it must be a situation where we can offer the Danes different alternatives”, Kofod said.
The Danish People’s Party has recently aligned itself with the right-wing alliance spearheaded by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, which includes his own Lega party, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, as well as the Finns Party.
“The nation states have to go reclaim the leading role, and we need to get the EU down to a size where it can become a better alliance”, Kofod explained.
A similar message was voiced by Nikolaj Villumsen, the Red-Green Alliance’s leading candidate.
“We have learned something from Brexit. We don’t want to copy the chaos we’ve seen in Britain”, Villumsen explained. “Therefore, we don’t believe a referendum in Denmark is relevant until we have a clarification on Britain’s future relationship with the EU”.
Despite postponing their push for a Dexit vote indefinitely, his party remains a fundamental opponent of the EU, Villumsen emphasised. According to the party’s programme, its goal is to “weaken, break down and abolish the EU”.
According to Villumsen, the more the EU moves toward centralism, the more Danes will be inclines to say “no, thank you”.
However, the People’s Movement Against the EU remains firm in its course. Its leading candidate, Rina Ronja Kari, finds backtracking “completely wrong”.
“We have been trying it for 40 years, one just can’t fundamentally change the EU from within. Therefore, it is deeply naive that some politicians now go around saying, ‘Vote for me, and everything will be good’. No, it won’t”, Rina Ronja Kari explained.
She believes Denmark must leave the EU, without waiting for the Brexit process to finish.
“It is really a shame that we are the only ones who want a referendum. We can hold a vote, even though a majority of parliamentary parties want to stay in the EU. It is really a democratic question to ask citizens what they want”, she said. According to her, this will create an “ever increasing pressure”.
Following the Brexit vote, Danes’ support for the EU has increased from 44 percent to 55 percent. Conversely, the share of EU-sceptics has dropped from 44 percent to 28 percent, Danish Radio informed.
A similar situation is happening in Sweden, Denmark’s northern neighbour. Amid “historic high” support for the EU, both the right-wing Sweden Democrats and the Left Party have dampened their opposition for the EU, leaving the Alternative for Sweden the only party pushing for Swexit.