The extreme right wing in Denmark

In the last parliamentary election in 2001 the Danish People’s Party became the third largest party in the Danish parliament. We asked Marie Frederiksen from Socialistisk Standpunkt where the support for the far right comes from and what is the nature of this party.

Where does the support for the extreme right come from and what are its policies in Denmark?

The extreme right wing in Denmark is represented in parliament by the Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti). In the last parliamentary election in 2001 they became the third largest party in the Danish parliament. The party is basically a bourgeois party. For example, the biggest capitalist in Denmark, Mærsk Mckinney, has given them financial support. Some of the members of the party have links with the Nazi milieu but there is no direct link between them and the party, and the party cannot be called a Nazi party.

The party is a very nationalist party, for example on the question of the EU it wants Denmark to leave the union – but on a bourgeois basis. At the same time the nationalist tone shows itself in their very strong anti-immigration policies. They are against immigration and want to stop it completely. They also want to get those immigrants and refugees who are already in Denmark to go back to their supposed home countries. They argue right now that the support for the Iraqi government should be withdrawn unless Iraq is ready to accept the return of all the Iraqi refugees from Denmark.

They demagogically cover up these policies with pro-welfare language. They have a lot of demands for improving welfare, especially for the pensioners and the sick. This means that they are able to attract workers from the Social Democrats who are fed up with the inability of the Social Democrats to solve the workers’ problems. But demagoguery is one thing and another is real politics, and they are without a doubt a bourgeois party who vote for attacks on the working class.

What is their relationship with the classical right wing?

In 2001 a right-wing government came to power after 9 years of Social Democratic government. One of the major themes in the election was the question of immigration. The Social Democracy swung to the right on this question following the demagoguery of the Dansk Folkeparti.

During the years of the Social Democratic government the workers felt their conditions worsen, and the only answer the Social Democrats had to this was that “it has never been better”, which was very far from the experience of ordinary people. So the Social Democrats tried to cover up for this by diverting the discussion to immigration, since they had no alternative to offer. It is clear that a Social Democratic party trying to beat the right wing at its own game is doomed to fail, and so the right wing won the election.

The right-wing government is composed of the liberal party (Venstre) and the conservative party. Their plan has been to privatise, cutback on welfare, and attack the workers, etc. To succeed in this they have relied on the Dansk Folkeparti. The government has obtained support from the Dansk Folkeparti for every proposal, if, in return they tighten up on immigration policies. In some cases the Dansk Folkeparti has demagogically put up some demands of, for example, better conditions for pensioners, which they then have received after so-called negotiations with the government. In this way the government and the Dansk Folkeparti have helped each other carry out cutbacks and attacks. As most parties have moved to the right on the question of immigration in the election campaign – since none of them wanted (or could) explain why workers felt their living standards decrease, the tone was set for very hard attacks on immigrants. The borders are nearly closed, immigrants get a special “introduction wage” (much lower than that of the Danish workers), which is a good way to put pressure on the general wage level. One cannot marry someone from outside Denmark until one is 24 and receives a wage that can support two people etc. These measures have been criticised many times from a human rights-point of view, saying they are against the Charter of Human Rights on the question of discrimination for example.

What will the future hold?

In the coming period there will be an election in Denmark. It is very likely that it will take place in January or February. But so far the Social Democracy (and the other opposition parties) have not been able to act as any form of opposition, even though there have been many protests against the right-wing government. It should be quite easy. In a recent opinion poll, the Social Democracy received less support than in the last election – their support fell from 29% to 27%. And the liberal party increased by about 1%. It is clear that there is a direct link between the total failure of the leaders of the Social Democrats to offer any alternative to the Danish workers, and the success of the rightwing (especially the Dansk Folkeparti). But it also seems that the Social Democrats are very reluctant to win the election; there is high unemployment, and the economy is not moving forward etc., so they do not want to come to power on the basis of promises they cannot fulfil without going forward on a socialist programme. At the same time the votes for the Dansk Folkeparti can also be seen as a symptom of unrest in Danish society, where large parts of the population are unsatisfied with the way things are going. This is an unrest that will explode at some stage, and the Dansk Folkeparti will not be able so show any way forward. The workers will be forced to find another way out – and the only thing that can solve their problems is a workers’ government on a socialist program.