(This article was originally posted on blogger.com on Oct 1, 2005)
“There is something rotten in the State of Denmark” — (Shakespeare, ca 1601)
It was true then, and it is true again today, more than 400 years after Shakespeare’s famous words in “Hamlet”. Why do I think this is so?
Two weeks ago, the Danish People’s Party (DF) celebrated their ten-year anniversary. DF was established on Oct 6th 1995, and at the first annual meeting in June 1996 member of parliament Pia Kjaersgaard was elected the party leader, which she still is today. By almost all standards, Pia Kjaersgaard is the most populistic member of the parliament (and, by the way, also one of the lesser educated). But, first of all, I’ll tell you something about the Danish constitutional system.
Denmark is a constitutional monarchy with an almost unbroken link of monarchs for more than 1,000 years. The current monarch, Queen Margaret II, has largely ceremonial functions; perhaps her most significant formal power lies in her right to appoint the prime minister (“Statsminister”) and the cabinet of Denmark, who are responsible for administration of the government. However, she must consult with parliamentary leaders to determine the public will, since the cabinet may be dismissed by a vote of no confidence in Folketinget, the Danish parliament.
Between 1849 and 1953, the Folketing was a house of a bicameral Rigsdag, the other house being the Landsting, which was indirectly elected. However, the 1953 Constitution established a unicameral Folketing of no more than 179 members, of whom two are elected from the Faroe Islands and two from Greenland. Elections are held at least every four years, but the prime minister can dissolve the Folketing at any time and call for new elections. Folketing members are elected by a complicated system of proportional representation; any party receiving at least 2% of the total national vote receives representation. The result is a multiplicity of parties (currently seven in parliament), the largest of which received 29% of the votes (as of 2005).
The The Social Democrats, historically identified with a well-organized labor movement but today appealing more broadly to the middle class, has held power either alone in minority cabinets or as dominant party in coalition cabinets for most of the postwar period. From 1982 to 1993, and since the 2001 election, Denmark has been governed by liberal-conservative coalitions – currently led by Anders Fogh Rasmussen as prime minister.
Now to my central point. The Danish general election on Mar 11th 1998 gave the Danish People’s Party 252,228 votes (7.4%) and 13 seats out of 179 in the parliament. Later on, the general election to the Danish parliament held on Nov 20th 2001, resulted in the Danish People’s Party winning 413,987 votes (12%) and 22 seats in Parliament, sadly enough making it the third largest political party in Denmark. While it was excluded from the conservative coalition government in 1998, its surprise success meant that prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen passed extremely restrictive asylum legislation, which was followed by a halving of asylum applications (and surely you can guess, who was very happy with this result). Unlike similar parties it has been careful in its foreign connections, and has been at pains to moderate its language, even though in reality obscure racist-like as well as “Islamophobic” statements by members of DF are served more or less on a daily basis (one example is described below).
Basically, the Danish People’s Party is a populistic anti-immigration right wing party, known for its Islamophobia, directed towards individuals perceived to be either Arab and/or Muslim (one reason being, that they seem to think, that being an Arab automatically makes you Muslim also, ignoring the fact that, for example, only a slight majority of the resident population in Lebanon is Muslim; the rest is dominantly Christian).
What do I mean by an “anti-immigration” movement?
Anti-immigrant and anti-immigration are labels often applied to those who are opposed to having significant levels of immigration in their countries. It is often used as a political epithet and politicians in the Western world generally dislike to use the label to describe themselves. Nevertheless, opinion polls demonstrate that many people across the developed world are uncomfortable with, if not outright opposed to, immigration. These sentiments may be justified with the arguments that immigrants:
isolate themselves in their own communities and refuse to learn the language/culture (i.e. there are not “well integrated”) damage a sense of community and nationality make heavy use of social welfare systems gainfully acquire jobs, which would have otherwise been available to native citizens
Prominent opinion leaders who oppose immigration blame it for such problems as unemployment, crime and deteriorating public education. Thus, politicians – like Pia Kjaersgaard and many others – can suggest reducing immigration as a “magic bullet”, when in fact other causes of these problems go unaddressed.
An example of what that kind of rhetoric can lead to happened just two days ago: On Sep 29th, member of parliament Louise Frevert posted (or was it somebody else who did it? See below…) some very anti-Muslim statements on her homepage, according to the Danish newspaper Politiken, comparing Muslims with “cancer-cells” and so on. These statements have now been deleted. The original statements can, however, be found at TV2’s homepage (sorry, only in Danish). Here are a number of quotes from her homepage [note: my translation]:
In plain words this means, that it will be easier for them [the Muslim priests] to continue brainwashing those young men to be “real believing” Muslims, that deliver their ultimate contribution as terror-bombs or just holy warriors.
And in a state of war, everything is allowed for the holy warriors, the second-generation immigrants in the suburbs, that will do anything to become heroes for Allah, so that their families can be proud…
The fact that they are born in Denmark and speak Danish does not alter their fundamental attitude – that whatever happens, they believe it is in their right to rape Danish girls and beat down Danish citizens at will.
Today Louise Frevert claimed that: “I did not write those letters”. And that the letters where actually written by another member of DF, Ebbe Talleruphuus. This is possible, but not very likely. At least it seems very strange 😉