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Election debate — There was a nice cache of votes up for grabs when a cross-section of Danish politicians turned up at the UCPH Ceremonial Hall for the election debate. The non-committed voters dominated the audience.
If you started to count participants along the lined-up chairs at the University of Copenhagen’s (UCPH) election debate last week, it would sound something like this:
»Undecided, Undecided, Undecided, Decided. Undecided, Undecided, Undecided, Decided.«
As three out of every four of the 400 participants in the room had still not decided where they would cross off their ballots. And this only one week before the Danish general election. When they signed up for the event, they were asked if they knew who they wanted to vote for.
»Look at this sea of voters,« said Prorector for Education Kristian Cedervall Lauta to the politicians present.
With these words he kicked off the debate in the University of Copenhagen’s Ceremonial Hall.
One of the undecided voters among the rows of chairs was 21-year-old Alzahraa Alnashi, who is a first semester pharmacy student. At the last election, she voted for the Social Liberal Party.
»It will probably not be this time,« says Alzahraa Alnashi.
So now she is part of the 75 per cent undecided. She finds education and integration/immigration policy to be the most important themes.
»But I’m not really into politics. That is why I am here. I hope one of the candidates says something that can get me to vote for them,« she says.
She is leaning towards the Moderate Party a bit like her friend Ayat Alaa. Ayat Alaa is 22 years old and is a 4th semester medical student.
The Moderate Party can offer Ayat Alaa the combination of a centre-right distribution policy and a more accommodative immigration policy, she thinks.
»We don’t just want to open up the borders. It is not that. And there are problems. But we disagree with the tone of it,« she says, referring to the Danish immigration debate. She looks over to her friend who nods.
As it turned out, however, it was not immigration and integration policy that was discussed.
Instead, the theme was: ’How do we get the best study programmes in Denmark?’
It is all about the Social Democrat proposal to shorten some of the master’s degree programmes by one year. The moderator is Prorector for Education, Kristian Cedervall Lauta, who starts by giving the floor to Ida Auken (Social Democrat) and lets her respond to whether you can have just as good an education with this proposal.
»Not one krone will be taken from education. They will all go towards more teaching and more counselling. The money saved are simply going to be used to improve quality.«
But it is a bad idea, according to Pelle Dragsted (Red/Green Alliance). Especially when it comes to student well-being.
»We are concerned that this proposal will further contribute to this pressure to perform that has been driven by the different study progress reforms and cuts.«
They should make the bachelor’s degree more relevant instead, argues Ole Birk Olesen of the Liberal Alliance.
»The proposal from the Social Democratic Party is just a cop-out. They have not been able to focus the bachelor’s degree programme on those who do not want to do research. So that you, after three years at university, can go out and get a job,« he says.
After covering education, the future challenges of the labour market, climate, and agriculture policy, the debate ends with the nuclear power issue.
Conservative Party candidate Laura Lindahl and Liberal Alliance candidate Ole Birk Olesen were open to nuclear power as a possible source of energy in Denmark.
It is expensive, however, and it takes time to build nuclear power stations, Socialist People’s Party chairman Pia Olsen Dyhr emphasized. The Social Liberal Party’s candidate Martin Lidegaard chimes in:
»It’s so ridiculous to see that the centre-right parties are not looking out to the international market. Nuclear power has dropped in global energy production,« he says.
It was precisely this debate over nuclear power that made an impression on 24-year-old Oliver Damgaard, who studies 6th semester economics.
»I was surprised by how sensitive a topic it was,« he says.
Otherwise it was mostly the politicians’ plans to tackle inflation which Oliver Damgaard was interested in hearing about.
»I need to just go home and read up some more about it on my own.«