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Old 12-23-2013, 01:39 PM   #1
Mike L
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Borgen: How realistic is the politics?

NOTE: This is not meant to be a discussion about politics, but rather about the political system in a fictitious TV drama. If this post offends the "no politics" rule, my apologies.

I expect many people here have seen (or are currently watching) the highly-popular Danish TV political drama, Borgen. It's been a big hit throughout Europe, and no doubt has been shown elsewhere in the world.

Here in the UK, the third series has just finished. It's made me wonder how realistic the political background is.

Spoiler alert: If you haven't yet seen the last couple of episodes of Series 3, you might want to look away at this point.

The third series ended with a parliamentary election. We saw the results (for the whole of Denmark) apparently being announced almost as soon as polling had closed. This was despite the fact that voting appears to be by paper ballot (we saw Katrine Fønsmark fill in a ballot paper). In practice, would the results be available so quickly?

We then saw the leaders of all the political parties immediately converge on the Christiansborg Palace, where they spent the rest of the night holding a series of ad hoc meetings to negotiate a coalition. By morning, not only was a new government in place - including several cabinet ministers being named - but also a new alliance for the opposition had been formed.

Given that there were seven separate parties involved, would a government be formed so quickly in practice? And in the middle or the night, immediately after the election? And would the party leaders be able to negotiate entirely on their own, without consulting their party members, and without the parties ratifying their decisions?

When Angela Merkel won the German elections in September, it took three months for her to form a coalition. In the UK, in 2010, it took several days, and that was with only three main parties involved. Is the Danish system unusual, or is it just a question of dramatic licence? (After all, it was a very gripping ending.)

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Old 12-23-2013, 01:50 PM   #2
Tony Richards
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Denmark has a smaller population than Germany, surely, so results would come in quicker. But yes, that was way too quick. Great series, though, so I think we can excuse some dramatic licence.
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Old 12-23-2013, 02:35 PM   #3
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All political theories work great on paper (TV). Add real people to the mix and they all fail.

While there are statistical abberations, after you've counted a relatively small number of ballots you know who has won most ridings. Results in Canada often seem instantaneous and it is really a question of a few ridings that are undecided until later.
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Old 12-28-2013, 05:38 AM   #4
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Thanks both for your answers.

To digress slightly: HomeInMyShoes, I didn't know that an electoral district in Canada was called a riding. I wonder what the etymology is. It presumably has nothing do to with the distance you can ride a horse in a day, or anything like that. I believe in Norse a riding means a one-third part. In England, the largest county, Yorkshire, used to be divided into three areas, called the north, west and east ridings respectively.

End of digression.

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