Authoritarian Populism Index.

The Authoritarian Populism Index is developed by Timbro.

Timbro is the leading free market think tank in the Nordic countries. Our mission is to promote and disseminate ideas supporting the principles of free markets, free enterprise, individual liberty and a free society. Timbro was founded in 1978 by Sture Eskilsson and the Swedish Employers’ Association, a precursor to the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.  Since 2003, Timbro is financed by the Swedish Free Enterprise Foundation.


International outreach and translation supported by Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Atlas Network.


Populism Rank: 19


Voter support for radical left in last elections (2022): -1,8%.
Voter support for radical right in last elections: +1,5%.
Populist or authoritarian parties in government (March 2024): none
Number of authoritarian or populist MEP:s (2019): 2/14.

01 Speakers

Denmark has always had the most fragmented party system among the Nordic countries. Party splits are common, and elections more often than not result in new parties entering or old parties exiting parliament. Anti-establishment parties have been represented in parliament since the 1970s.

The Danish Communist Party (DKP), founded in 1919, was banned during German occupation but legalised after liberation and then shortly participated in government in 1945. After the war it was the only established party to oppose Denmark joining Nato. The DKP’s popularity vanished in the following decades. Because of DKP’s loyalty towards the Soviet Union, even after the invasion in Hungary in 1956, the party suffered a split and many members instead joined the non-revolutionary Socialist People’s Party, which quickly took over the position as the leading alternative to the left of the Social Democrats. 


The DKP, still receiving financial support from Moscow, made a short comeback in parliament in the 1970s, capitalising on its opposition to Denmark joining the EC. In 1989, the DKP joined forces with the Leftist Alliance, a 1967 splinter from the Socialist People’s Party, to form the Red-Green Alliance (EL). EL is a radical left party, still believing in the necessity of revolution, that has given parliamentary support to several center-left governments in Denmark, although never participated in one. They oppose EU-membership, are strongly left-leaning on economic issues but progressive on social issues. In 2007, Asmaa Abdol-Hamid, a candidate for the party, became the center of a huge controversy due to her conservative islamic views, including her refusal to shake the hands of men and her support for the death penalty. 

Asmaa Abdol-Hamid.

The Progress Party is one of the earliest right wing populist parties in Europe. It was formed in 1972 and enjoyed immediate success, coming second in the “earthquake” elections in 1973. The FRP always remained a populist party, without striving to be ideological consistent. While originally a protest party against taxes, in the 1980s it added anti-immigration to its repertoire, with party leader Mogens Glistrup infamously promising to make Denmark “a muslim free zone”. The FRP never joined a government but provided parliamentary support for several centre-right coalitions. Glistrup, founder and leader of the party for the first 15 years, was a highly controversial politician who served time for avoiding taxes and made lots of racist comments.


The FRP was marked by factional battles between the so called “slappere” and “strammere” (pragmatics and hardliners). In 1995, the leaders of the pragmatic faction left the party to form the Danish People’s Party (DF), a social conservative anti-immigration party that quickly became highly successful. Pia Kjaersgaard, MP and vice-president of the FRP, became the first party leader of DF.


DF initially focused more on immigration issues than FRP had done, and became a very different kind of party, much more centralised with little or no space for internal critics. The established parties first tried to isolate them, the Social democratic prime minister in 1999 famously claiming that “no matter how hard they try, they will never be respectable (“stueren”). Only two years later, DF began a decade-long cooperation with the centre-right government, functioning as a parliamentary support party. Initially it almost exclusively put forward demands related to immigration and integration policy but later broadened its scope, with strong focus on welfare issues. DF for a long time managed to maintain their image as an outsider, even though they were highly responsible for government policy through the confidence-and-supply agreement.

DF has wielded huge influence on government policy,notably driving Denmark towards one of the most stringent migration policies in Europe during the early 2000s, alongside increasing demands for assimilation among migrants to Denmark. While Kjaersgaard was the mastermind behind the party’s policy triumphs, her successor Kristian Thulesen Dahl achieved the party’s best election results, winning the European parliamentary election in 2014 and then reaching an unprecedented 21 percent in the national election the following years. Since then, DF has suffered heavy losses, nearly losing representation in the parliament in 2022, with both voters and MP:s joining the new radical right parties that have emerged, most notably the Denmark Democrats.

Pia Kjaersgaard.

The New Right is a national conservative party formed in 2015 by Pernille Vermund. It has mainly focused on anti-immigration in combination with economic liberalism, placing themselves to the right of DF both on economic and social issues. The party advocates for a complete halt to asylum immigration, the expulsion of any immigrant convicted of a crime, and the requirement for all immigrants to be financially self-sufficient. It is also against Denmark’s membership in EU. In 2024 Vermund joined the centre-right Liberal Alliance, suggesting that New Right simply should cease to exist.


In 2022, Inger Stöjberg, former minister for immigration, left the liberal conservative Venstre and formed a new party: Denmark Democrats (DD). Stöjberg first became controversial for her handling of migration issues, while a minister. The website of her department had a counter which showed the number of restrictions in the foreign law that she had implemented and when it reached 50, they celebrated with cake. She was later impeached for misconduct in office. After serving her six weeks sentence, she founded the new party which won eight percent in the elections the same year. 


DD is a national conservative and populist party, quite similar to the DF. It combines an even tougher stance on immigration with a populist focus on rural Denmark. The urban-rural conflict has increased in importance in Denmark in recent years, especially after the decision by the Social Democratic government during the pandemic to cull all the country’s minks, thereby devastating an entire industry. DD sees great potential here. Asked on what separates DD from DF, Stöjberg mentioned tax policy – she wants tax cuts for low incomes – and the EU – she does not want to leave the EU. Unlike DF, DD also clearly positions itself to the right in Danish bloc politics.

The Ibiza scandal initially caused a sharp decline in FPÖ’s popularity, but the party has made a remarkable comeback since late 2022, consistently leading the polls ahead of the 2024 elections. In 2021, Herbert Kickl succeeded Hofer as party leader. Kickl, who previously served as interior minister, garnered attention for his controversial remarks about the European Convention on Human Rights, suggesting that legal structures hinder necessary actions and advocating for politics to dictate legal proceedings: “I believe that it is up to the law to follow politics and not for politics to follow the law”. 

During the pandemic, Kickl was among the harshest critics of the restrictions, refusing to wear a face mask in parliament, and spreading conspiracy theories on the vaccine.

FPÖ has always been right-leaning on economic issues, placing themselves just to the left of the ÖVP. FPÖ is among the more radical anti-immigration parties in Europe, and the issue has been important for them since the early 1990s. The pan-germanism of the party’s early years has been replaced by a more direct Austrian nationalism. FPÖ has continued to be supportive of Russia, even after the invasion of Ukraine. Kickl argued that Russia and Nato “shared responsibility” for the invasion, and when Zelensky held a speech in the Austrian Bundestag, Kickl and other FPÖ MP:s walked out.

Since 1990, Austria has consistently seen a right-wing majority in parliament, yet the ÖVP has opted to form a government with the populist right only on three occasions. This reflects the ambivalent stance within the ÖVP regarding alliances with right-wing parties

EP elections

Number of authoritarian or populist MEP:s (2019): 2/14


The left-wing eurosceptic party The People’s Movement Against EU has only stood in EU elections and was represented in the EP between 1979 and 2019, the last periods within the GUE-NGL group. They lost their seat in the 2019 election, mainly due to the Red-Green Alliance competing in EP elections for the first time (they gained one seat and joined the GUE group).


The Progress Party was represented in the EP between 1984-89. The DF entered in 1999, first joining the UEN group. Between 2009-19 they were in the ECR group and since 2019 in the ID group. In 2015 the party, and future party leader Morten Messerschmidt were involved in a scandal regarding misuse of EU funding for the party group. Since 2019 they have only one MEP.

DF summary

Economics: CENTRE
Social issues: MODERATE
Democratic credibility: MEDIUM

DD summary

Economics: CENTRE
Social issues: MODERATE
Democratic credibility: MEDIUM