Anti-immigrant party gains in Danish elections

Elections are such depressing things. Once again the power to register a desire to change society in a fundamental way was open to the workers (in the shape of their vote) and once again it was squandered on capitalism. Of course it was not going to be otherwise – Danish workers, as elsewhere, are sadly not showing any high degree of class consciousness. The events in the US and Afghanistan have helped put a rotten breath of life into so-called “immigration debate”. And it didn’t exactly help matters when it was revealed one of Saddam Hussein’s generals – responsible for the 1988 gas attack on a Kurdish village – lives in Denmark.

The Danish election was on 20 November . It was a historic election. The turnout was a record; the Social Democrats were massacred, losing power everywhere, for example, for the first time in 82 years there isn’t a Social Democrat mayor in my home town of Aarhus; and the new government is the first “borgerlig” (literally “bourgeois) majority administration since 1926-29. In fact, the Social Democrats are the second largest party now; the neo-liberalists of Venstre have taken over first place.

Rasmussen has been replaced as PM by Rasmussen. (Tweedledum and Tweedledee spring to mind.) Not only did the two main actors have the same name, a lot of TV time was spend looking the lack of differences in the parties’ manifestos. (We say they are fundamentally the same anyway since both seek to administer capitalism.) It is the same spectacle of New Labour being the new Tories. Nyrup Rasmussen, the ex-PM, claimed in one election broadcast – when presented with a 30-year-old quote of his – that he has always stood for regulated capitalism . . . which is true, but at least he didn’t call it socialism.

The Danish Peoples’ Party has become the third largest party, and provides the Venstre/Conservative government with the extra mandates it needs for the “borgerlig” majority. (The Danish Folketing is built up on a complex PR system where posts and policies are negotiated by the parties.) The DPP is a nasty, nationalist outfit. Social Democrats are secretly hoping the DPP will scupper the government. And if you think that sounds like intrigue, what about the Socialist Peoples’ Party mayor who was backed by the DPP and a capitalist . . .

The whole tone of the election has led the Swedish and Norwegian liberals to call for Venstre’s exclusion from the liberal movement. International reaction has been negative too, some going to far as to compare Fogh Rasmussen with Haider. Venstre had put an ad in a national broadsheet about seven Arab boys who raped a 14-year-old girl in Aarhus not so long ago, which was roundly criticised for its suggestion that Arab boys are gang rapists. Immigration and taxation played a large role in the election. The ideas was: Danes pay high taxes; the Welfare State is in trouble, and we have waiting lists and our pensioners aren’t looked after; immigrants come here, do nothing, and get loads of taxpayers’ cash to live the life of Reilly. A few people realised that immigrants are an essential part of the labour force, which was vindicated by the post-election news that the firm Novo Nordisk are seeking qualified engineers in the immigrant population, even promising them support if they require a masters education. (There are too few engineers to cover industry” requirements at present.)

The need for a socialist on the debate programmes, in order to blow such nonsense arguments to bits, was obvious. But there were no socialists, just the sight of Frank Aaen of the Unity Party being foolish. The Unity Party is a ragbag collection of old Trotskyist and Stalinists, who married when the Eastern Bloc collapsed. Anders Fogh Rasmussen (the new PM) was harangued by Aaen. Fogh was quick to reply: “It’s obvious that the only thing you know about liberalism is what you learned at the Party school in Moscow.” It was a devastating hit. Aaen served the Kremlin Empire in his capacity as a leading Communist Party member. Socialists have pointed out that the silly gits who lionise Lenin do the socialist cause enormous harm. Fogh didn’t need to give a serious answer to Aaen – it was enough to use imagery.

There were some positive things. I produced a couple of hundred leaflets which were snatched up, made some contacts, and I sold a number of copies of this journal. An interesting thought to ponder: when the new government fails, as its predecessor did will workers begin to see that no matter which bunch you put in, it is King Capital first and the working class nowhere?

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