With the 2012 campaign in full swing, and the United States’ election day now 14 months away, let us put the brakes on for a moment and focus us on another election . Yesterday, Danes elected a new prime minister – for the first time ever a woman – and decided on the distribution of the 179 seats in parliament.
The campaign season lasted all of three weeks. There were no political ads on television. Voter participation was 87.7 percent. Compared to the United States – the land of the permanent campaign – the parliamentary democracy of Denmark offers us a glimpse of what elections could be.
Like in the United States, during campaign season here in Denmark it’s hard to drive a block without seeing wall-to-wall campaign signs. And like in America, the top issue here is overwhelmingly the economy. But the biggest difference in campaign season between our two countries – aside from the length – is the money. With a ban on political TV ads in Denmark, cash plays a much smaller role in the blitz for votes here.
And this is where the American political establishment, if it really cares about the strength of its democracy, would do well to take a breather from the already frenetic 2012 race to learn a thing or two from the Danish elections.
By shortening the official campaign period and taking television ads out of the process, you decrease the money involved in campaigns and increase the genuine democratic debate.
It’s well known that negative ads drive down turnout. (Turnout in Denmark in 2007 was 87 percent, compared to 62 percent in the United States 2008 presidential election.) Smear campaigns solidify a negative impression of all politics in the minds of the voter, which does little to stir confidence in the government.
Full Article: The Danish way of elections – The Hill’s Congress Blog.