The European Union, strained by a refugee crisis, security fears and popular disenchantment after years of economic doldrums, suffered another blow on Thursday when Danes voted to reject just a small step to further integrate with the bloc.
Together with Britain and Ireland, Danes have long enjoyed several exemptions from EU laws dating from the 1990s when the modern foundation of the 28-member bloc was laid. Despite that, most mainstream politicians advised the Scandinavian country to adopt some more EU laws to help fight cross-border crime.
But a bungled “Yes” campaign that got mired in complicated details was trumped by a simple message from the populist Danish People’s Party (DF) which said Danes should neither give up hard-fought-for exemptions nor give away sovereignty over security to “Eurocrats” in Brussels.
With all the votes counted, the “No” camp won 53.1 percent against 46.9 percent to the “Yes” camp with a turnout of 72 percent, which was higher than expected.
“The Danes know that when things are left to Brussels, they’re left a long way away in a non-transparent system where we lose a lot of our democracy,” DF leader Kristian Dahl Thulesen said after most of the votes had been counted.