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Constitution Day and Election Day in Denmark

On this day 170 years ago, the Danish King Frederik VII signed the Danish Constitution of 1849, creating a constitutional monarchy. Thus, today marks Grundlovsdagen (Constitution Day). Although a national and bank holiday, the day is not such a grand affair as Constitution Day of Norway.

This year may be different, though, as Denmark holds its national elections for the Danish Parliament today, June 5. It is the first time ever that Denmark will hold a general national election on its Constitution Day.

Danish Election, by Bain News Service, publisher. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.31570

Danish Election (Bain News Service, publisher, between ca. 1915 and ca.1920). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.31570

When is the Danish Parliamentary Election?

Unlike neighbor countries Norway and Sweden, which both must hold elections in September every four years by constitutional mandate, Denmark has floating elections, meaning that it allows the government to announce the next election, provided it does so prior to the end of the current four-year term. (§ 32 Danish Constitution).

The Danish Constitution mandates that elections to the Folketinget (Danish Parliament) are conducted through general, direct, and secret elections. (§ 31 Constitution.) Members of Parliament serve for a four-year term. (§ 32 Constitution.)

How Long is the Campaign Period?

The campaign period starts after the sitting Prime Minister of Denmark announces a national election. The campaign period is thereby limited and only allows for campaigning within this set period. On May 7, 2019, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen announced that the 2019 election would be held on June 5, 2019, meaning that the campaign period would be less than a month.

Who Can Stand for Election?

Anyone who is a Danish citizen and has a right to vote may stand for election, unless that person is convicted of certain crimes. (§ 4 Parliamentary Elections Act)

To stand for election, a person must be a member of a party. There are currently 13 political parties represented in the Danish Parliament. Parties that hold a seat in Parliament automatically have a right to be on the ballot in the next election. (§ 11 Parliamentary Elections Act.) In addition, parties that have received signatures from 1/175 of the valid votes cast (about 20,000 signatures) in the last election and that register with the Ministry for Economic Affairs and the Interior no less than 15 days before the election date are also eligible. (§ 12 Parliamentary Elections Act.)

Who Can Vote? 

Danish citizens aged 18 years and older who permanently reside in Denmark are eligible to vote. (§ 1 Parliamentary Elections Act.) Typically, Danes living abroad are not allowed to vote. Certain expats who are stationed abroad are eligible, however (§ 2 Parliamentary Elections Act.) Technically, the Danish Queen Margrethe meets all the legal requirements to vote, but the royal family does not vote.

When are the Results Posted?

The results must be posted as soon as possible.  The Ministry for Economic Affairs and the Interior posts it in the Statstidende (Danish government gazette).

Danish election returns, by Bain News Service, publisher. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.31571

Danish election returns, by Bain News Service, publisher. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.31571

Voter Participation

Voter participation in the national parliamentary elections is generally high in Denmark (85.89% in 2015). However, participation is lower in Greenland (49% in 2015), and the Faroe Islands (66.2% in 2015). The figures for these two Danish territories are more similar to the Danish voter participation in the EU elections: 66.1% in 2019 and 56.3% in 2014.

How Many Members are there in the Danish Parliament?

There are 179 members of Parliament, of which two represent Greenland and two represent the Faroe Islands.

When Does Parliament Convene?

Following the election, the parliament meets on the twelfth weekday (includes Saturdays) following the election day (this year, June 20) at 12pm, unless the Prime Minister has called for a meeting prior to that. (§ 35. Stk. 1. Danish Constitution.)

In non-election years, the Parliamentary year starts on the first Tuesday of October and ends the same Tuesday the following year. (§ 36. Stk. 1 Danish Constitution.) The Parliament convenes at 12 pm on the first day of the parliamentary year. (§ 36. Stk. 2.)

Prohibition on Political Campaigning on TV & Limits on Size of Political Posters

An interesting fact about Denmark, which Americans may find interesting, is the prohibition against political campaigning on TV. (§ 76 stk 3 Danish Radio and Television Act). In fact, all the Nordic countries have this prohibition.

In addition, Danish law sets limits on how large a political poster may be without first applying for a permit from the Danish-Transport authorities: 0.8 square meters. Such banners may only be placed on public roads four weeks prior to the election and must be removed eight days after the election. (§ 84 Public Roads Act.)

Law Library Resources on Elections Around the Globe:

Legal Reports on Elections and Campaign Financing

FALQs: Saudi Arabia Municipal Elections – Women Participate for the First Time

Israel’s 2013 Elections: The Making of a Coalition Government

Women in History: Voting Rights

Family Voting as a Solution to Low Fertility? Experiences from France and Germany

And many more

Resources on Denmark:

Guide to Law Online: Denmark

Guide to Law Online: Greenland (part of the Kingdom of Denmark)

60 Years of Lego Building Blocks and Danish Patent Law

Danish Law – Global Collection Highlights

The Making of a Legal Cinnamon Bun

And many more

Global Legal Monitor articles:

Denmark

Greenland

Faroe Islands

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