01:35 - Source: CNN
Controversial Danish election cartoon pulled

Story highlights

Cartoon uses muscle-bound character called Voteman to persuade people to vote

Voteman is depicted in a series of sexually suggestive and violent scenes

Parliament speaker apologizes, says cartoon was "more serious and offensive" than intended

Danish Parliament's EU information center created cartoon ahead of European elections

CNN —  

It’s a perennial problem. How do you persuade young, apathetic voters to go to the polls? Enter “Voteman” – Denmark’s rather ill-judged and short-lived cartoon solution.

The cartoon opens with two apparently politically disaffected young men. The scene switches to Voteman, a muscle-bound, stubble-chinned superhero, answering a call asking him to persuade voters to have their say in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

Naked, he leaps up from a bed surrounded by women apparently performing sex acts on him and – having donned a leather waistcoat and trousers – sets off from a Bond villain-esque island hideout on his mission, riding a pair of harnessed dolphins as waterskis.

An orgy of cartoon violence follows – one of the original men is decapitated, while other would-be non-voters are punched, slapped and tossed through the windows of a polling station to vote.

The cartoon is the unlikely creation of the Danish Parliament’s EU information center, originally posted to its official YouTube page.

Less surprisingly perhaps, it has now been pulled and an apology made for its graphic sexual and violent content.

Mogens Lykketoft, speaker of the Danish Parliament, said in a statement on his Facebook page that many people had perceived the cartoon as “more serious and offensive than it was intended, and see it as talking down to the youth.

“Reaction in social media is sharply divided between those who see this as unacceptably vulgar, and those who think it is tough but acceptable humor which brings attention to the vote on May 25.

“The latter was the intention. But I acknowledge that Parliament, as an institution, in future has to show more caution in what we put our name to.”

The cartoon tells the story of how Voteman, as a young man, once forgot to vote in European Parliament elections.

This, the narration says, taught him a painful lesson: “No influence on climate regulations, agricultural subsidies, chemicals in toys – and the amount of cinnamon allowed in his cinnamon buns.

“Horrified by this, he decided he would dedicate his life to making everybody vote. So if you’re not going to vote, don’t try to run, don’t try to hide, because he will find you. And he will make you vote.”

The European Parliament elections, in which voters in each of the European Union’s member states elect representatives to the body, are taking place across Europe next week. May 25 is the day on which Danish voters will go to the polls.

Denmark’s turnout for the last European elections in 2009 was close to 60%, well above the European average of 43%.

CNN’s Kim Norgaard contributed to this report.