Mette Frederiksen of the Danish Social Democrats addresses her supporters after the election results are released at Christiansborg Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo: EPA/LISELOTTE SABROE
Mette Frederiksen of the Danish Social Democrats addresses her supporters after the election results are released at Christiansborg Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo: EPA/LISELOTTE SABROE

Danish Social Democrat leader Mette Frederiksen's tougher stance on immigration along with her idea of increasing welfare spending after years of austerity has been awarded by voters in Denmark. The center-left Social Democrats won close to 30 percent of the vote and Frederiksen's bloc secured 91 of the 179 seats in parliament in an election, in which immigration was a key factor.

Mette Frederiksen is the face of a new social democracy in Denmark based on the traditional defense of the welfare system and a tough immigration policy. 


The daughter of a typographer and a teacher, Mette Frederiksen was a unionist before becoming a member of Parliament in 2001 when she was 24. She served as minister of justice and labor before becoming the leader of the country's main party in 2015. She replaced Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the first female prime minister in Denmark who stepped down after the center-right's victory. At 41, she is now set to become Denmark's youngest-ever prime minister. 

Hard line on immigration 

Frederiksen's tougher stance on immigration signaled a break from the past vison of an inclusive left. It acknowledged widespread concern on immigration and marked a comeback for the Social Democratic party. Frederiksen during the electoral campaign pledged that the outgoing government's tough stance on immigration would not be disavowed. 

The Social Democrat leader abandoned her radical ideas - in 2000 she had denounced Denmark's policies as the harshest in Europe - and opted for pragmatism. She embraced a more restrictive approach to immigration following a shift in progressive Denmark as hundreds of thousands of refugees came to Europe and populism gained momentum. 

'Voters lost due to our immigration policies to come back' 

Cutting down the number of migrants in Denmark was an objective embraced by all Danish parties, with the exception of the far left, that said they wanted to protect the country's prosperity and social cohesion. Frederiksen, among other proposals, has suggested to send asylum seekers to special facilities in North Africa while they are waiting for their applications to be processed. 

On the eve of the vote, the Social Democratic leader said voters lost over the years due to the party's platform on immigration would be ''coming back''. And her party's success was registered at the expense of the far-right, in particular the populist Danish People's party that plummeted to 8.7 percent of the vote from 21.1 percent in the 2015 election. 

After outgoing premier Lars Loekke Rasmussen resigned, Frederiksen is now set to form a government, possibly seeking external backing on single dossiers, even from the right on immigration.
 

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