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Local elections for Copenhagen City Council take place 19 November. You, dear reader, may be able to take part. We have got eight leading candidates for Copenhagen to ask for your vote. Here is what they say.
Lack of student housing? Legalization of cannabis? The traffic situation? These are just some of the themes that the local politicians of Copenhagen have to take stand on, as the local election approaches.
As a Copenhagen resident you will have the opportunity to vote if you are a citizen of the European Union, Iceland, Norway, or if you have been a permanent resident in Denmark the past three years.
University Post has asked the Mayor of Copenhagen and leading candidates representing the major Danish parties about a few of the pressing issues for both Danish and non-Danish students.
We asked specifically about the student housing situation. But also asked for a few sentences on their policy priorities.
(This is an updated list, now with two candidates from the Red-Green alliance and the Social Liberal Party, who have now responded)
Let’s start with Rasmus Jarlov, who is currently a city council member, and candidate for the Conservative Party:
”We do not consider it to be a task for the government to build cheap houses. We would like to lower taxes and administration fees for the companies building houses and then the market will provide housing at an affordable rate. Denmark is generally far too expensive and a big part of the explanation is that the government takes care of too many things,” he writes to the University Post.
“The Conservative Party in Denmark is the sister party of the Conservatives in the UK, Høyre in Norway, Moderaterna in Sweden and CDU in Germany to mention a few parties from our neighboring countries. We are the only party in Denmark that fights for personal responsibility, market economy, lower taxes and a smaller government while also defending the culture and our traditions.”
Current mayor of Copenhagen Frank Jensen of the Social Democrats has had his job since 2010.
“Copenhagen is an attractive place to live and study and accommodation can consequently be difficult to find as a newcomer. We are pleased that an increasing number of international students choose Copenhagen, and we need to ensure that everyone can find accommodation in the city. To meet this demand we are planning to build 3,000 new youth residences in the coming years.”
“We welcome international students in Copenhagen, and we need their input and knowledge from abroad. To make it easier to live in Copenhagen we have opened an ’International House’ with a service center for international students and professionals where housing, taxes etc. can be handled in English.”
“International House can also help students expand their professional network and find jobs in Copenhagen. We do all this to make foreigners feel welcome. We hope that this will make them want to settle in Copenhagen after completing their studies,” he writes to the University Post.
Peter Thiele is city councillor for the Socialist People’s Party.
”The lack of student housing is an unfortunate and very urgent problem in Copenhagen. I have studied for 5 years in Copenhagen myself and I know that a decent place to live is important. I believe it is a right that all students should be entitled to. As a member of the City Council in Copenhagen, I am constantly working to ensure housing for all students in the city.
”I recently initiated the process of establishing youth housing in an empty school in Husumgade in Nørrebro, and we are currently looking for other places in the city do the same. I find it odd that we have empty schools, nursing homes, and other buildings in Copenhagen not being used, while we have students who cannot find a place to live. In the future I will continue to work politically to ensure more student housing in Copenhagen.”
Peter Thiele wants to get as many new Copenhageners to vote as possible.
“As a foreign student in Copenhagen you should be aware that if you have permanent address in Denmark you are in many cases entitled to vote at the local and regional elections. If you are a citizen of an EU country or one of the Nordic countries, older than 18, and have permanent address in Denmark, you can vote no matter how long you have lived in Denmark. If you come from countries outside the EU or the Nordic countries, you can vote for the Danish local and regional elections after 3 years of living in Denmark. If you are entitled to vote, you will receive a voting card by mail.”
”Copenhagen is suffering under a catastrophic lack of student housing and that is why we have to think creatively and quickly in order to find a solution to the current problems just as we have to make it attractive to invest in the construction of student housing on a long-term basis. An example of a quick and creative solution is for example the use of the empty nursing home, Sølund, as student housing which I have suggested. It is happening right now. Another example is that the municipality of Copenhagen should support projects like Living in a Box which creates good and affordable housing for students in old ship containers.”
”It is not enough that we as a municipality initiate construction. We need to make it attractive for private investors to build student housing. We can do that by suspending building charges for a period just like we can postpone the investors’ payment for the building site until they have the building permit. We know this will have a colossal impact on the interest in building houses but unfortunately the majority in the municipality of Copenhagen, led by Frank Jensen, will not agree on a solution like that as they do not wish to have private investors on the market.”
”Copenhagen is a fantastic city to be a young person in. And we are happy for all the young people who come here from throughout the world to study in our capital city. And even though we Danes have a reputation for being stand-offish, reality is luckily something different. I hope each of our international students will experience this. Copenhagen is a city of culture, events, life and happy times, music for any taste, and lots of sport and leisure activities. So get out into the city and show us you are here. Take part in our democracy, and vote in the municipal elections 19 November. We have a large corps of volunteers – Copenhageners and people from abroad – who help out at Copenhagen events. It is called Copenhagen Volunteers, and I call on you to join. It is a fantastic way to get to know the city, and get into contact with Copenhageners and other international students.
”There has to be built much more accommodation for students. The need for student housing is already big and there will only be more students in the future. Danish People’s Party wishes to introduce a student housing guarantee. Copenhagen can only attract the best students if students are secured a place to live.”
”At the Social Liberal Party we strive to develop Copenhagen into a state of the art student friendly city. We have to work hard and we have a good way to go before we can lean back and say that Copenhagen is the best student city in Europe.”
”Availability of student accommodation is not the only challenge, accommodation needs to be affordable too. Copenhagen would have to step up to the challenge and engage with private foundations, academic institutions and the private sector in order to identify financial models enabling more student housing to be constructed as close to the academic institutions as possible and at a cost that most can afford.”
Signe Færch is already a city council member and official candidate for The Red-Green Alliance (known as Enhedslisten in Danish):
“The most imminent problem in Copenhagen is the lack of affordable housing. Most politicians acknowledge the problem, but too little is done about it. The Red-Green Alliance wants the municipality to lead the way and start building public housing – the free market can’t fix the problem. The past term we have managed to persuade the Mayor to focus more on the issue of housing – but it is still a huge problem that we have to act on.”
“Another important issue is transportation. If we want a greener and healthier Copenhagen, we need to improve the metro, trains and busses. We also need to improve the conditions for bikes in Copenhagen and decrease the numbers of cars. The whole world finds inspiration in the biking culture of Copenhagen. We are proud of that and want to strengten it.”
Next candidate also has a few things to say.
“It is the aim of Liberal Alliance to make Copenhagen the municipality with the lowest tax rate in Denmark. It should especially be made more favorable to run a business in Copenhagen. Local companies are subject to growth inhibitions through various company taxes. It is a declared goal for Liberal Alliance to reduce taxes in general, in order to make it cheaper to live and to do business in Copenhagen.”
“Liberal Alliance will make the ongoing witch-hunt on motorists in Copenhagen come to an end. A vibrant and modern city must provide space for all kinds of users, and the car is for many families a necessity in order to make ends meet in their everyday life. This does not mean that we are against bicycles and public transport, but we will rather invest in initiatives that add value to Copenhagen as a whole. No more free bicycles or reserved parking spaces for electric cars. Liberal Alliance Copenhagen is working for a traffic policy for all the residents of Copenhagen.”
There are many other candidates, but this is the top selection we have made.
See the fact box right to determine if you are eligible to vote. If you are you will automatically get a voting card in the mail before the election takes place.
Most, actual voting takes place in schools, and public buildings. Even some McDonald restaurants have this year been turned into voting booths.
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