Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Danish Left Marches Right.

In the recent Danish general election the Left parties received 52% of the vote with 41% gained by conservative opponents. Some analysts claim this was a victory for left-wing politicians. Delving deeper and the fact reveals itself that the Left adopted a right-wing agenda to catch votes. Danish voters did not avow progressive policies. The Social Democrat, Mette Frederiksen, prime minister adopted a stricter immigration policy to win anti-immigration voters.

The Social Democrats went along with the banishment of rejected asylum seekers unable to return home and foreigners convicted of crimes to the island of Lindholm, previously used for infectious disease research; the granting of intrusive police powers enabling the confiscation of goods held by refugees deemed non-essential and worth more than 10,000 kroner; and fining Muslim women wearing garments covering their faces in public places. In February, the Liberal Party passed a law to repatriate more refugees, which has been described as a "paradigm shift" in Denmark's refugee and asylum policy because of the changefrom integration to repatriation. The law was approved with support from the Social Democrats. Their spokesperson for immigration Mattias Tesfaye explained that refugees “...will be given the more honest message that their stay in Denmark is temporary.”

Critics retorted that “The essence of this is about making life harder and more unpleasant for people who have come here to escape Assad’s barrel bombs and the sex slavery and terror of Islamic State.”

"The Social Democrats realised that if they don't want to lose yet another election on the immigration question, they needed to emulate the policies of the Liberals and the Danish People's Party," University of Roskilde political scientist Flemming Juul Christiansen said.

"What we thought was extreme 10 years ago is now a common discourse in Denmark," says Kasper Møller Hansen, political science professor at the University of Copenhagen.

Mehmet Kökten, a Muslim born and raised in Denmark and feels "very Danish," thinks that right-wing populism has increased in Danish politics and that today the Social Democrats are just as populist. "The Social Democrats have sold their souls to gain power. Their leader Mette Frederiksen could just as well have been a leader of the Danish People's Party when it comes to their rhetoric about immigrants." he pointed out.

Adapted from here


Unknown said...

Being Danish myself, I thought I would add a small correction: Yes, the Social Democrats have been moving rightwards on immigration. They did not, however, win this election - they only just barely held on to their mandate. Two of the parties that they will need support from were the one gaining: The Radical Left (a centrist party, despite the name) and the Socialist People's Party (left of the Social Democrats) were the "winners". And both being opposed to the Social Democratic turn on immigration. This will make for some interesting talks about creating a new government - and support will also have to come from Enhdslisten, the leftmost party in parliament.

My guess is that the Social Democratic willingness to accommodate the rightwing parties stance on immigration deflated this issue as a theme in the campaign, which was much more about climate and welfare.

Although the strategy of the Social Democrats is deplorable, interpreting the result as a capitulation to rightwing politics is not nearly nuanced enough.

ajohnstone said...

Many thanks for your comment.

It is always good to have extra info from someone on the ground.