Denmark maintains its 11th position in this year’s ranking, due in large part to consistently strong scores across the Government, Education, and Enterprise metrics. Denmark continues to be recognised for its creativity, design, and innovation. The nation has been blessed with the regal touch of Princess Mary Donaldson, whose style has helped it become a leader in fashion diplomacy. Denmark’s fourth place ranking on the Enterprise sub-index, a two-place increase from 2017, is largely due to its highly competitive economy that fosters products and ideas that succeed on the international stage, such as Lego, A.P. Moller–Maersk, and Bang and Olufsen. While Denmark scores notably well on the World Happiness Index, and enjoys high levels of trust in government, it was viewed in a different light this year as anti-immigration policies revealed the country’s populist underbelly. Following the likes of the Belgium and France, the Danish government banned the wearing of face veils, including burqas and niqabs, in public in May 2018. This move saw the condemnation of the act as a violation of human rights, and can potentially pose a threat to Denmark’s strong score in the Government sub-index. Denmark also struggles to gain relevance on the world stage. Its culture unfortunately remains largely unknown in other parts of the world, and its involvement in international organisations is lacking. As Denmark edges closer to a much-coveted spot in The Soft Power 30 top 10, more must be done to leverage their plentiful soft power assets.
Denmark’s greatest strength is undoubtedly its stable and reliable government. This year’s coalition deal certainly confirmed this by bolstering Denmark’s ranking in the Government sub-index to an impressive second place. The Nordic socio-political model is widely admired, and Denmark continues to show the benefits of a united, cohesive, and transparent governance. Recently named the world’s best country for women thanks to its earnings-related day care system and one of the most flexible parental leave policies in Europe, Denmark is at the forefront of equal opportunity.
While Denmark enjoys a robust system of domestic governance, the Nordic country’s poor score in the Engagement index proves it could stand to expand its global network. Despite being one of the few countries that set aside more than 0.7% of their GDP to foreign aid, Denmark can do more to increase their cultural missions worldwide and host more foreign embassies and consulates on their shores. Furthermore, in sharing best practices around fostering green cities, Denmark could also become a global leader in sustainable transport.
To propel itself into the top 10, Denmark should assert itself on the world stage by promoting its many successes in its low levels of corruption and high levels of citizen trust in government. Increasing global engagement through renewed involvement in international organisations would also benefit Denmark, although Denmark must also carefully manage perceptions of itself as a liberal democracy in the face of mounting calls from citizens to address immigration issues.