Ever since 1938, when the office of Lord Mayor of Copenhagen was established, the role has been occupied by a member of the Social Democrats (Socialdemokrater). But their unbroken run in power may come to an end at the upcoming municipal elections in November due to deepening divisions between the left-wing parties.
Copenhagen Municipality is governed by eight mayors, each with their own department and responsibilities. The top job belongs to the Lord Mayor, who runs the powerful economy committee, and who is typically the mayoral candidate belonging to the largest party in the winning electoral bloc.
Socialdemokrater have been losing ground to other parties in the left-wing bloc, especially to the far-left Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) – both are polling at about 20 percent of the vote.
Complicating the equation further is the arrival of The Alternative, a centre-left green party that is expected to steal ten percent of the vote in its first municipal election.
The party’s mayoral candidate, Niko Grünfeld, says that time might be up for Frank Jensen, Copenhagen’s Lord Mayor for the past eight years.
“Socialdemokratiet has had the post for more than one hundred years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will continue. It could be someone from Enhedslisten,” Grünfeld told Berlingske, adding that they would prefer a “seriously green” Lord Mayor.
According to a Gallup poll taken in June, it would be possible for Enhedslisten and Alternativet to form a majority in City Hall together with the Social Liberals (Radikale) and Socialist People’s Party (SF), locking the Social Democrats out of influence for the first time ever.
“We would be naïve not to look at different options. But Frank Jensen is a clever politician and an experienced man, so he can read the political landscape. And we will see if he lives up to his promises for a green direction,” Grünfeld added.
And Jensen is unlikely to take the threat lightly. Alternativet and Enhedslisten both oppose a planned development on Amager Fælled, a green space south of the city. The sale and development of the land has been in the works for decades, and is required to finance debts incurred in building the Metro. Scrapping the housing development would mean the city would have to find another way to raise 1.5 billion kroner.
But almost 50,000 Copenhagen residents have signed a petition demanding just that, given that this particular plot of land has a high level of biodiversity. Their votes could tip the balance and result in the most substantial political upset in Copenhagen’s modern history. M