At the EU-Africa summit in Brussels last Wednesday (3 April), Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt stated that she is not looking for a top job in the Belgian capital.
“It’s not relevant, it won’t happen, and I think people should bear this in mind,” Thorning-Schmidt said according to the news agency Ritzau.
However, four out of ten Danish voters said in a recent poll that they believe the prime minister’s party, the Social Democrats, will fare better in next year’s general elections if Thorning-Schmidt sought a job in Brussels now, and left her current position to another social democratic politician. Still 44.3% of the Social Democrats’ voters prefer Thorning-Schmidt as party leader.
Thorning-Schmidt has been critisised as of late by many mayors representing her party, saying that they no longer believe their party can win the next election and that something ‘drastic’ needs to happen within the party. The prime minister, who formed a centre-left government in 2011, has polled poorly ever since. In January, the Socialist People’s Party left the governing coaltion, protesting its current political direction.
Political commentator Hans Engell said the new poll is paralysing for the prime minister, because so many voters prefer a different social democratic leader. Most popular is the current labour minister, Mette Frederiksen.
“For a head of state this is a disaster, and as a prime minister, this makes her look to be without authority in front of the government, her parliamentary group and the party,” Engell said.
In a popular TV talkshow on Thursday, however, Thorning-Schmidt bet 1,800 Danish crowns (€242) with the talkshow host that she will win the next election in Denmark and continue as prime minister for a second therm.
“There have been speculations about EU positions, but I will stay as leader of my party at home in Denmark,” she stated.
Henrik Quortrup, a political commentator, tweeted afterwards: “Though Thorning is under pressure, we have to admit, she was convincing in that talkshow.”