The victory of Denmark’s Social Democrats in the election on Wednesday would some seem to vindicate leader Mette Frederiksen’s lurch to the right. She hardened her party’s policy on immigration and supported such far-right proposals as a ban on prayer rooms in schools and universities.
A closer look at the campaign she ran, as well as the election result, reveals a more nuanced picture. Read more
Social Democrats in Iberia and Scandinavia Try Opposite Strategies
What is the future of European social democracy? Your answer to that question may depend on where you live.
If you’re in the Mediterranean, it’s cooperation with the far left. Social democrats in Portugal and Spain have come to power under deals with far-left parties. In both cases, unwieldy coalitions were greeted with skepticism, but now Prime Ministers António Costa and Pedro Sánchez are riding high in the polls.
In Greece, Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza party has even supplanted the center-left altogether.
In Scandinavia, by contrast, social democrats are trying to win back working-class voters by taking a harder line on borders, crime and defense.
Denmark’s Left Must Find Balance Between Nativists and Progressives
Denmark’s Social Democrats are eying cooperation with the nationalist People’s Party which they have shunned for years.
Under Mette Frederiksen, who took over the party leadership after its 2015 election defeat, the center-left has supported such far-right policies as a ban on prayer rooms in schools and universities.
The two parties, who are both in opposition to a liberal minority government, have also made common cause against raising the pension age.
Frederiksen argues she is defending the Danish welfare state from the challenges of globalization.
Her strategy is not too dissimilar from her Swedish counterpart’s. Stefan Löfven, the ruling Social Democratic Party leader in Stockholm, has taken a hard line on border control, crime and defense in a bid to stem working-class defections to the far right. Read more
The Case for Permanent Coalitions on the Left
Social democratic parties in Europe should make permanent alliances with smaller parties to their left and right in order to keep their constituency united, argues a Dutch political scientist.
Joop van den Berg, formerly of Leiden University, writes that the traditional social democratic alliance, between workers and the intellectual middle class, is breaking down. The former are defecting to either populists on the far left (Die Linke in Germany, Podemos in Spain) or nationalists on the right (the Danish People’s Party, the Dutch Freedom Party). The latter are switching to Greens or centrist liberals in the middle.
One way to stem this, Van den Berg proposes, would be for social democrats to ally permanently with the other parties of the left. Then they would no longer need to fight on two fronts at once. Read more
Clear-Eyed Danes Have Lessons on Immigration
As European countries struggle to cope with a record-high influx of asylum seekers this year, there is a thing or two they could learn from Denmark, writes James Kirchick in Foreign Policy magazine.
The country was the first in Western Europe to curtail immigrant marriages and last year cut social benefits for refugees nearly in half.
Such policies may be ungenerous; they have helped reduce the flow of people coming in and raise native acceptance of those immigrants who are admitted. Read more
No Contradiction in Denmark
Hugh Eakin finds a contradiction in the Danish character. He writes in The New York Review of Books that this egalitarian and open-minded people in the north of Europe have reached a consensus that large-scale Muslim immigration is incompatible with their social democracy.
Although Eakin recognizes in the end that the Danes have nevertheless been able to maintain a “more stable, united and open society than any of their neighbors,” he avoids drawing the logical conclusion: that they are prospering because, not in spite, of their shared sense of belonging and refusal to compromise with foreign values. Read more
Danes Set to Keep Opt-Out from European Justice Policy
Europe’s ongoing migrant crisis and the recent terrorist attack in Paris could decide the outcome of a referendum in Denmark on Thursday where polls show “no” voters ahead at 38 percent.
34 percent of the Danes intend to vote “yes,” according to a Gallup survey, while 23 percent are undecided.
Should the Euroskeptics win this plebiscite — the eighth since Denmark decided to join the European Union in 1972 — it would be a sad irony: at stake is the very sort of cooperation that would mitigate the refugee crisis and enhance security cooperation. Read more