Health economists are now examining the lockdown measures, which are regarded by some as excessive. CEPOS, an independent Danish think tank promoting conservative and classical liberal ideas, has pointed out that treatment costs for COVID-19, where the mortality rate is relatively low, are far higher than for other commonly treated conditions. This skepticism was shared by Lars Lokke Rasmussen, former Prime Minister and leader of the Danish Liberal Party until 2019, in an op-ed for the Danish tabloid B.T. Referring to a tweet from the American President, Rasmussen wrote, "This rarely happens, but I agree with Donald Trump: the cure must not be worse than the problem!" While restrictions are being eased in phases, some political parties, and in particular the Liberal Party, believe that the process should be sped up to revive sectors vital to the economy, including reopening shopping malls and restaurants.
The Danish public affairs institute De Økonomiske Råd believes that the country faces two possible scenarios. The first scenario takes an optimistic view of how COVID-19 will impact the economy: fairly rapid stabilization with a 3.5% decline in GDP. With the second, more pessimistic scenario, a 5.5% decline in GDP is predicted. By comparison, in the fall of 2019, it was predicted that Denmark's GDP would increase by 1.9% in 2020. As a solution, De Økonomiske Råd has suggested reducing the tax on electricity and increasing taxes on CO2 in order to stimulate the economy and drive environmental change.
In Sweden, the anti-lockdown strategy has certainly resulted in fewer short-term consequences for the economy. It has, however, resulted in behavioral changes: shops and restaurants are still open but are frequented less and less. International trade has also been slowing down. But it is unclear whether Sweden will fare better economically in the long run than its Danish neighbor.
The closure of large sections of society has undoubtedly cost the Danish economy dearly. Nevertheless, the root of the issue is also the faith that Danish society places in its institutions and decision-making bodies.
Reaffirmed trust in institutions
According to a Voxmeter opinion poll for the Danish news agency Ritzau published on April 3, support for the ruling Social Democratic Party had increased by 2.5%, placing them 8% above their results of the last parliamentary elections in June 2019, when the center-left party regained its majority after four years in opposition.
The same poll indicated that 86.3% of respondents believed "the government has done the right thing" in the way it has handled the pandemic, with 80% saying that they trust the government's decisions. Compared to other countries, Denmark has a traditionally high confidence rate when it comes to institutions. For example, a 2019 study by Eurofound estimated this confidence rate at 65% among Danes, compared with 47% for the French. The Danish Prime Minister, on the other hand, was not so popular before the crisis: her polling approval rate went up from 39% on March 4 to 79% on April 2.
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