European elections – you hadn’t heard? Why does Borgen vote?

How do you make a Dane vote?

Like this – VIDEO 1,543,779 views

How do you make a Brit vote?

Like this? – VIDEO 12,915 views

Some people complained about the Danish video, so Borgen took it off t’Internet again. Of course, the glory of the World Wide Web is that, once the cat’s out of the bag, packing it up again is not really an option. Often considered a negative, like when you’ve drunkenly posted last night’s pub highlights, Borgen effectively turned it to its brilliant advantage.

Not only is the vid now out there, it’s gone viral and it’s free! No need to fork out for expensive airtime. Stroke of genius and Scandi shoulder-shrugs all round. Actually, I think that video from the UK-Green Party is quite smart but, at 12,915 views, it’s not really cutting it.

No, far better the totally non-pc Danish Voteman who, with over one-and-a-half-million views equate to one in four of Borgen’s population having clocked it. Mind you, it could also be half a dozen twisted perverts having looped it.

But, whichever it is, it nonetheless does give a few vital clues to the respective political attitudes of Britain and Borgen.

It is also irrefutable that the Brit approach produces a 34% turnout, while 58% of Danes trot along and put pen to ballot. For Borgen that’s quite poor really. In elections for the Danish Parliament the turnout rockets to 88%. Go figure.

And here’s a little factoid for you: the Danes don’t actually vote – they voice [stemmer] their opinion instead, which is a far more encouraging and hyggelig way of nudging people to the polling station.

But polling day is not the only time the Danes voice their opinion. They voice their opinion all the time. Every day. Many times a day. They complain when their bus is 48 seconds late. They write letters about litter on a weekly basis. They accost politicians on the street about air pollution.


In fact, visitors to the Northern tip of the EU often comment that, for the happiest people on the planet, Scandis in general complain an awful lot. In a recent survey across the water in Sweden 97% of Swedes turned out to be positively ecstatic about their everyday existence.

“I’m astonished by the results,” says Swedish anthropologist Gillis Herlitz. “Swedes nowadays complain about everything.”

And actually, call me contrarian, but I think that’s the whole point. Scandinavian society is so well organised precisely because its citizens voice their discontent the split-second it occurs.

Borgen’s politicians know that 5 million pairs of eyes and ears are sitting on their shoulder from dawn till dusk – well nearly. But enough to let them know not to try any funny business. Oh, make no mistake about it, politicians being what they are, even Danish ones will try their luck, but it never lasts very long. You wonder why they bother.

Staying in continental mood, clever French person Alexis de Tocqueville once said: “Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite”. “Every nation gets the government it deserves”… or was that other old French brain box Joseph de Maistre ?

Whoever it was is right on the button. In Britain we have a really rubbish political system because our politicians know they can get away with it. They look after pensioners, oh yes, because pensioners go out and vote. And they look after big business, because big business gives them loads-a-money.

Poor people, students and unemployed “layabouts” – Michael Caine’s words, not mine get a raw deal. And guess what? They don’t vote.

So there you have it: Good voters = good government. Rubbish voters = rubbish government. Not exactly rocket science, is it?

The election circus will be hanging around for another 24 hours, so plenty of opportunity to catch a thrill ride somewhere. Even the magnificent Michael Sandel has been in town asking whether we should vote at all? His question garnered some pretty outlandish replies as well as the usual thought provoking “Oh-never-thought-of-that” responses. Even I couldn’t resist: Listen here

You don’t need a voting card to vote, just locate your polling station (there’s an app for that) – likely to be just around the corner – rock up and claim your right to have a say.

Polling stations are open 7am till 10pm so there’s no excuse.


On Thursday 22 May – don’t be a rubbish voter – channel Voteman!



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