Early elections in Denmark

By all appearances the right-wing government couldn't have picked a worse time to call an election. However, if one looks at the situation more closely, one can see that things will only get worse in the future for them.
Last week the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh, called elections for November 13th, with the lowest possible time frame of 3 weeks.

The call for elections was unexpected, since the present right-wing government could have stayed in power for more than another year. However, if one looks below the surface, it does seem to make good sense.

Why early elections?

Now is not a very good time for the right-wing government to call elections, but it seems that with time, things can only get worse.

In September everybody was talking about elections, but they didn't come. The reason was that on October 2nd, when parliament opened after the summer holiday, a huge demonstration was called.

As reported earlier as many as 100,000 people turned up for the demonstration, to protest against the continuous cuts to the welfare system. This was the third mass demonstration in the last year and a half.

On top of that were the negotiations between the government and the city councils about the budgets. The government has, as long as they have been in power, demanded that the city councils cut their budgets, which has severely hit schools, hospitals, kindergartens, care of the elderly, etc. Last year this lead to a wave of protests and strikes among mainly the public sector workers, which continued throughout the summer.

It was clear that the city councils wouldn't keep the agreement with the government to cut as much as they wanted, so the government wanted an election before they forced the city councils to obey.

However, wage negotiations for the entire public sector are currently taking place. They must be finished by March, and every body predicts that there will be a big strike over this issue, since the public sector workers are demanding substantial wage increases.

So even though it wasn't the best possible time for the government, it only looked to get worse, especially taking into account the fact that the housing bobble is enormous, and is now bursting, which will effect the entire economy.

Radicalisation and yet the right wing is in a majority

Danish society has witnessed a wave of radicalisation in the last years. Despite this the right-wing government still holds a majority in the opinion polls.

The present right wing government has been in power since 2001, with the support of the extreme right-wing party the Danish People's party, which is a racist party, with an election poster with a drawing of the prophet Muahhamed - a clear provocation.

The reason why the radicalisation is not showing up in the opinion polls is the complete lack of an alternative from the workers' parties.

The Social Democrats, the largest workers' party, has been doing historically poorly over the last years. The new chairman, Helle Thorning Schmidt, is on the extreme right wing of the party. The party leadership was pushed to the left during the protest movement, and come forward with very good demands, but the problem is that the leadership seems completely discredited.

The only workers' party that has managed to go forward in the elections is the Socialist People's Party. They have managed to link up with those public employees who have been protesting with strikes, etc.

The smallest workers' party in parliament is the Unity List, which in the last election rose to 6 seats, but now has continued to be just on the cut off line of 2 percent of the votes, mostly below. They have offered absolutely no alternative, and only seem to be the left wing of the Socialist People's party. On several questions, for example on whether they are still in favour of a revolution, the answer has been: "yes we want a profound change, for example 100 percent sustainable energy, that would be a profound change." They have a very good revolutionary programme, but use every opportunity to not explain it. And it didn't help when they elected a Muslim candidate that the leadership was unable to give any clear answers on the question of religion and socialism.

With a clear programme for a workers' government on a socialist programme these parties could easily win a majority - the vast majority of the Danish population is fed up with cuts, privatisations, etc.

But instead the leadership of all parties moves to the right. The Social Democratic leadership seems to be afraid of a strong Socialist Peoples' Party with clear welfare demands, and has therefore now suggested a coalition with three centre-bourgeois parties.

The workers' parties lost power in 2001 because the workers were tired of cut-, and thought, "well let's try something else, the right wing will also make cuts, but at least they will also cut taxes".

If the workers' parties present a clear alternative which explains that better welfare does not mean higher taxes, they can make the right wing look exactly as they are - a very small minority, only really supported by the employers.

The outcome is still open

Many things can still happen in the elections. Most of all, the majority seems to think the whole election campaign is a bit of a farce, were every body is saying the same thing, and it doesn't really matter.
So it could very well be that the right wing wins once again, in many ways a situation very close to the one in France, were the right wing won, not because of their policies, but because of the lack of alternative.

But if the right wing wins once again, it will not be a stable government, as has been the case so far.

In the spring a new centre bourgeois party was formed, splitting off from another centre party. This makes the whole situation in the right-wing camp much more unstable even if they manage to get a majority once more.

The new party, New Alliance, was formed to counter the power of the Danish Peoples' Party, and it seems that a potential new right-wing government cannot get a majority with any of them alone. At the same time, the class struggle is not finished at all, the working class has not been defeated in any serious way, and the frustration is still bubbling right below the surface.

Fight for a workers' government on a socialist programme

It is clear that we need to get the right-wing government out of office. But the only way to do this is to pose a clear workers' alternative. Any deal with any of the bourgeois-centre parties will not be able to meet the demands of the workers' for better welfare - quite the opposite. The Danish Marxists in Socialistisk Standpunkt fight for a workers' government, composed of the Social Democratic party, the Socialist Peoples' Party and the Unity List on a socialist programme.

But the leaders of these parties are not going to propose a socialist programme by themselves. To get a real workers' alternative and a new government it is necessary that workers and youth put pressure on their leaders, in their party branches, through their unions, etc., to get these leaders to break any alliance with the bourgeois parties.

With a plan for taking over the largest companies, banks and the oil industry and run them under the control of the workers there would be plenty of money to raise the level of welfare, lower the working week to 30 hours, and improve the living conditions of all workers, youth, seniors and immigrants in Denmark.