Danish Election Calls for Reflections

The Danish general election on the 18th of June resulted in a change of parliamentary majority. Despite the first gain since 1998 for the Social Democrats, the parties supporting the incumbent centre left government lost 3 seats altogether to the right wing bloc with the nationalist Danish People’s Party as the unsurpassed victors ahead of the crumbling Liberal Party, who is expected to form a new government after all.

The campaign themes covered job creation, where most legislation the past four years has been made in consensus covering public construction works, lowered taxes for companies and cut job allowance for socially marginalised groups. These plans also included austerity measures such as cutting student and unemployment benefits; measures that will be continued with the right wing whose welfare policies include no or minus growth in the public sector and user charges for health care.

The most widely discussed theme is the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean Sea caused by the civil war in Syria as well as unrest in Libya and Eritrea. With most parties including the centre left government calling for a tightening of the asylum policy, the Danish People’s Party and especially the Liberal Party called for worsening the conditions under which the current refugees live and work in Denmark.

For Europe, this election marks a turning point in the consensus-driven Europe policy. The new majority has pledged to support UK PM David Cameron’s efforts to renegotiate the UK membership of the EU and to prevent the union from becoming a social union.

This election calls for reflections for our movement, as the general trends are as follows:

  • The Socialist and Social Democratic parties continue to loose support from 40,8% in the 2011 election to 38,3% in this election. The lack of results with a clear social and/or redistributive profile could be an explanation.
  • Being tough on immigration and refugees politically and discursively has not stopped the gains of the Danish People’s Party. As a matter of fact, more voters than polled went to the DPP as a consequence of social marginalisation, disgust with politicians and xenophobia cultivated by the traditional parties.
  • The space for creative, sub-political ideas is not guaranteed within our movement: the new green party The Alternative won 9 seats from the traditional centre left with ideas on social and environmental sustainability, entrepreneurship and citizenship. The voters look for ideas and dreams, not necessarily for technocracy.

With the results at hand, the Social Democrats have pledged its commitment to act as a reliable and responsible opposition. With a new leader elected next Saturday, the campaign to regain the majority and thus the opportunity of sustaining Denmark’s public sector, ambitious climate plans and international responsibility has begun.

 

danish chart

 

– by Alexander Blum Bertelsen, YES Vice-President 

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