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Referendum On EU Defence Opt-Out Underway


Voting is underway in Denmark in a referendum that will determine whether the country abolishes its opt-out to the EU's the Common Security and Defence Policy or EU military operations. Polling stations are open from 0800-2000CET (0200-1400ET, 0700-1900BST). The referendum comes in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with the gov't calling the referendum on 6 March, shortly after the invasion was launched.

  • The opt-out on defence was one of several offered to Denmark (alongside those on economic and monetary union, area of freedom, security and justice, and a legal guarantee on citizenship) in order to gain public support for the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, after a referendum had defeated the original treaty in Denmark in 1992.
  • Most parties in Denmark have voiced support for abolishing the opt-out. PM Mette Frederiksen's governing Social Democrats and two of the three main parties in a confidence and supply agreement with the Social Democrats (the Green Left and Social Liberal Party) have voiced their support. The main opposition conservative-liberal Venstre, the centre-right Conservative People's Party, libertarian Liberal Alliance and the Christian Democrats have also backed the abolition of the opt-out.
  • The far-left Red-Green Alliance, which backs PM Frederiksen's gov't, is the largest party advocating a 'no' vote, as is the right-wing populist Danish People's Party and the right-wing nationalist New Right party.
  • Polls show consistently that the referendum is set to pass, with polling leads for the 'yes' to abolition camp running from 11% to 25% in May, and with no minimum turnout threshold it appears likely that Denmark will be able to opt into EU defence policy and military operations in the future.

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