And You Thought American Politics Were Complicated

15 Sep

This post has been a long time coming.  The Danish government is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system.  They have been waiting for the Prime Minister to call elections, and the week that we got here he finally did!  I have been avoiding writing this post because it is much more complicated than American politics (at least for the average American), but I think it is necessary to post what I have (or think I have) learned about the process and what the current issues on the agenda are this election, especially considering that the election is today, Thursday, September 15th.

I am taking Migration & Conflict, so we take a look at immigration and integration in Danish society and politics a decent bit.  That was the topic on the agenda for last election, but it is not the focus of this one.  Apparently the focus is more on economics.  The agenda seems to be taking a look at the current state of the welfare system and its benefits, whether or not to adopt the Euro, and the budget deficit (Wait, so America is not the only one drowning in debt? But i guess Denmark’s is only 85 billion DKK, 4.6% of their GDP.  America’s is $14.7 trillion, certainly a heck of a lot more than 4.6% of our GDP.  You still have us beat Denmark!).

As for a break down of the parties, it is quite lengthy! There are currently 9 parties, but some Danes have told me that that can change often.  From what I understand, their most conservative party is about where an American moderate would stand.  Therefore, their most liberal party would probably be considered Communist by American standards (and thanks to the socialist-phobia the Cold War has instilled among the generations before me).

So here it goes:

Socialdemokraterne– The Social Democrats are left-wing advocates of democratic socialism.  They would like to make Denmark more attractive for private investment in order to decrease unemployment.  They do not plan to raise taxes, but rather utilize every kroner in the most efficient way possible.  They have pledged to make electricity and heat supply free of fossil fuels by 2035 and the entire energy system free of fossil fuels by 2050.  They want to work to eliminate discrimination against immigrants and ensure that they are given a quality education.

Dansk Folkeparti– The Danish People’s Party is a national, populist, conservative group.  They oppose immigration and EU membership while advocating the preservation of Danish culture.

De Radikale– Radikale is a social liberal party.  They want lower taxes on labor and to increase pollution taxes.  They also want to attract foreign workers and make immigrants feel more secure here.  They also want to adopt the euro in Denmark, a common European refugee policy, and to be a full member of the European community.

Venstre– Venstre is a liberal party with conservative liberal policies.  They are the party of the current PM.  As you can see….it is hard to keep explaining each party.  It is late at night and I can barely keep my eyes open as I write this post.

Enhedslisten– The Red-Green Alliance is an alliance of the Communist Party of Denmark, the Socialist Workers’ Party, and the Left Socialists.  Told ya their left most party would be considered Communist! They are opposed to the EU, which they see as European capitalism.  Their slogan is “people, not profit.”  They also have a heavy focus on ecology.

Socialistisk Folkeparti– The Socialist People’s Party are left-wing social democrats, advocating for popular socialism.  They are all for a welfare society, want to create new jobs and protect the environment/climate with renewable energy.

Kristendemokraterne– The Christian Democrats are centrists, but promotors of a Christian democracy.

Liberal Alliance–  The Liberal Alliance party is a centre-right liberal party.  It wants to lower tax on labor income to a maximum of 40% (40% would cause a massive revolution in America..).  They also want to allow foreign workers to come to Denmark more easily so that they can support the elderly.  But they do believe that immigrants should have to earn their welfare benefits before automatically receiving them.

De konservative– The Conservative party is just that. Conservative. (Yes…I am getting more tired as I type this!)

On the scale, it seems I would be a social liberal.  Perhaps a Radikale or Social Democrat (Oh who knows…don’t hold me to this as my political views! I don’t know enough to really choose!).  They call us the café latte drinkers; the educated; the celebrators of diversity.  We are left in value and center on economics.

When I was with my visiting family the first time around, I tried to talk politics a bit with them to gain a better understanding of the elections.  Liane is much more left and believes that in regards to the social welfare system, that students very much so should have free education as well as a living stipend while they are getting their education.  When Linda disagreed and said that she believes everyone should work, Liane said that her mother only thinks that because she was not given the same benefits when she was a student and that when Liane is done with school, she will work hard and give back to the system to repay what she was given.

Also, when talking to Linda about the high taxes Danes are faced with on their income, she said it is nice because they have free health care and the likes.  However, she expressed frustration with the inability to earn a little more if one desires.  She said that in a certain job title, you make a certain amount of money.  If you want to work overtime to make more money, it is not really possible to do.

The election period is much different from that of America.  Rather than mass amounts of advertising and campaigning all year-long or more before elections, they have a 3 minute time slot of TV to make a commercial advocating their party.  They also plaster posters all over the city with the face of the candidate, the party, and possibly a slogan.  Some places, there are multiples of the same person right in a row!  That seems to be a bit of a waste of campaign budget and materials if you ask me.

Potential Future PM

The current government is led by Lars Løkke Rasmussen, of the Venstre party, and is a center-right minority government.

The prediction I have heard thus far is that Helle Thorning-Schmidt, leader of the Social Democrats will be Prime Minister (first Danish female PM!) and form a centre-left coalition.  Also, it is thought that if Venstre’s leader, the current PM, is re-elected that Venstre will break its coalition with the Danish Peoples Party.  The Danish Peoples Party seems to be rather intense and super xenophobic (from their website: “Denmark is not an immigrant-country and never has been. Thus we will not accept transformation to a multiethnic society.”) and have tightened immigration on all levels and the people do not seem to want this on the agenda.

Elections are tomorrow, and I will post with updates when the results are in!  It is so exciting to be in Denmark during this time and see how the process goes.

On a slightly different, but still related note, we watched a video for the Swedish Democrats in class the other day.  It basically is telling voters that they can choose between their pension or giving more money towards integrating immigrants.  It was quite shocking to see!


Disclaimer: This is just from what I have interpreted.  This is by no means 100% accurate.  Feel free to comment if I am mistaken on anything!


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