It could be entitled: how not to get people to vote. The Danish parliament on Tuesday pulled a controversial video replete with cartoon nudity that was meant to encourage young people to vote in this month’s elections for the European Parliament. The 90-second video features “Voteman”, a muscleman first seen in bed with five naked women who then proceeds to beat up young people to force them to vote. He then decapitates one man, interrupting a couple having sex to throw them and their bed out of a window, and using his dolphin to help him chuck people into voting booths. Morgen Lykketoft, speaker of Folketinget, the Danish parliament, had previously warmly endorsed the video. “We are trying to inspire the very young to go out and vote. It is important we get a higher turnout, especially among the young. You have to use all sorts of methods,” he told state radio on Monday. He added: “I think it’s rather innocent. You can find much worse.”
A day later – and following a social media storm that had derided the sexist and violent nature of the video – Mr Lykketoft had repented. “Many whose opinions I deeply respect took the EU information cartoon as more serious and offensive than it was meant … I recognise that parliament as an institution shall be more circumspect about what we put our name to,” he said.
Although most of the reaction – from political parties on all sides – focused purely on the crass nature of the cartoon, some sensed an attempt to stem the rising appeal of the populist right Danish People’s party.
The anti-immigrant party have been ahead of the ruling Social Democrats in several recent polls and are only behind the opposition Liberals. With support of about one in five Danes they are polling ahead of other populist right wing parties in the Nordic region, including the Finns and Sweden Democrats.