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It is a ritual, a ceremony, a carnival of politics. Time to join in the fun ...
This Thursday, Danes will take the ballot card that has been sent to them in the mail, line up at their polling station, typically at a local school, and give their ballot card to one of the volunteer officials.
They will get a ballot sheet, walk into a voting booth, mark the sheet with a pencil, and walk out the other end. They will fold their ballot sheet, and slip it into the voting box.
They all know that the chances of their personal vote actually deciding an election is almost nil. The chance is actually less than one in a million.
But election after election, people turn out regardless. Actually round 87 per cent of the electorate choose to vote in Denmark in an average national election. This is a good turnout in a global perspective. And it is all the more surprising, since in Denmark the main political parties are in substantial agreement about a wide range of Danish policies.
So why do voters do it? Because elections are more than just politics. It is seen as a civic duty. And a ritual like Christmas Eve, or the upcoming Sankt Hans festival next week, where an effigy of a witch is burned on a bonfire. Just a way of affirming that you are part of a community. This is why there are so many happy faces and so much banter as voters line up to vote.
Part of that community can be felt when young political activists compete to find new creative ways to hang posters in the city. As one of them said to the University Post recently, “…climbing around and putting up posters is one of the fun parts of being politically active because it’s not just intellectual, or talking about issues”.
This Thursday, after the poster wars, the tweeting, and the voting, it will become a TV event for most.
For some it will be another excuse to get together and celebrate. Many choose to hang around with friends and cheer on their favourites on this day, as the exit polls and first tallies come in.
The student café Studenterhuset in Copenhagen will be organizing an English-language event on election night, and everyone is welcome.
So whether you are voting or not voting, you are still part of the ritual, just like you cheer on your favourite team, or go off on a tangent with your own pet analysis. Take a walk around town Thursday and see the vote in action, follow it as much as you can, get together with your friends, and enjoy it while it lasts.
Have an interesting and fun election!
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