This post is about the upcoming Danish parliamentary elections (which are on the 13th). I'm entranced by how elections in Europe seem to spring up out of nowhere, whenever the ruling regime feels they are in a good position to keep their mandate. Yes, I know it is actually somewhat predictable, and follows its own logic, but to me, used to knowing when elections will be years, decades, centuries in advance, it always seems more than a bit random, this idea of calling for a vote whenever you feel like it, like some sort of nation-wide dinner party, only without food.
The shortness of the preparation time makes for very intense dynamics: in this instance, there was officially just under three weeks notice before the election date (though of course there are always rumors well beforehand, so it can't have been a total surprise to anyone), which means that Denmark is now in the midst of a 3-week obsessive media frenzy, which will last presumably until the election itself (when there will be equally obsessive spin regarding all aspects of the voting, who's in, who's out, who is working with whom, that kind of thing).
This time, I feel I have some basic idea of the different parties, where they generally stand on the issues (and which issues are important at the moment), some of the key characters, and so I'm really trying to pay attention. At this point, I can honestly say that I have no idea what will untimately happen (though I'd put my money on the current government staying in power, possibly with some change in support parties). However, I have found two prognosticating tools, which I would like to share with you.
1) Use Facebook. There are currently two groups which are relevant here, one attempting to find 100,000 voters who want to get rid of (current prime minister, and head of the middle-right wing Liberal Party) Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and another attempting to find 100,001 voters that do not want Helle Thorning-Schmidt (the head of the main opposition party, the middle-left Social Democrats) to be prime minister. At this point, the 'get rid of Fogh' party has 15,310 members. The 'we don't want Thorning-Schmidt to win' group has only 1,680. Clearly, this shows that either Fogh is in deep trouble, or that stereotypical college-age Facebook users are not representative of the general population.
2) Opinion polls. According to today's edition of free morning paper Urban, of all the 8 main party leaders, voters would most like to have Anders Fogh as their accountant or bank advisor. They would also rather buy a used car from him than from Helle Thorning-Schmidt (though interestingly the party leader they would most trust to sell them a used car is left-wing Socialist People's Party leader Villy Søvndal). But before you feel too sorry for Helle, consider that she is the one that voters would most like to hug. Especially the male voters (Thorning-Schmidt is a very elegant willowy blonde, which might explain this), but also the female voters (she and Villy Søvndal are tied for second behind centrist party New Alliance leader Nasser Khader, who is not horrible looking). Men would also choose to dance with Helle at a party, though women are more likely to dance with Villy or Nasser, or, if they aren't available, then maybe with Anders Fogh. So, what does this bode for the candidates? If the warm fuzzy candidate has an edge, then it might be time for a new government. If it's all about sound financial advice and overall sales, then I'd say that Anders Fogh has timed the election well.
This is not to dismiss other ways of predicting, from tea leaves to more serious polls (which I believe show Anders Fogh ahead, but with Thorning-Schmidt catching up fast). Can you add any techniques to my list? And for the American elections, which candidate would you most like to hug? Or buy a used car from?
*Grafitti in the hip, working-class Nørrebro area of Copenhagen, taken months ago, well before the election. This person clearly does not like Fogh. According to my preconceived notions, the sprayer of this sidewalk statement would vote for a very left-wing party, like maybe Enhedslisten.*