Denmark faces a snap general election on Thursday 18th June, reports Harry Blackwell, after the minority government of Social Democratic Party prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmid, dissolved parliament. The general election will be important for marking the progress of the Red-Green Alliance, Denmark’s radical left wing party.
The Social Democrats came second in the last general election in September 2011, but had formed a minority coalition with the smaller Social Liberal and Socialist People’s Parties. Last year the Socialist People’s Party left the coalition leaving it in a very unstable situation. The left wing Red-Green Alliance had stayed outside of the coalition from the beginning, voting in parliament on an issue-by-issue basis.
The Red-Green Alliance (also known as ‘Enhedslisten’ or ‘Unity List’, and designated by the symbol ‘Ø‘) had emerged from the last election in a pivotal role after surging forward to win 12 seats in the 179 seat Folketing (parliament), by far its best performance in its 20+ year history.
The Red-Green Alliance was originally formed out of a merger of far left parties, including the Danish section of the Fourth International, the SAP, Socialist Resistance’s sister organisation. It has been represented in the Danish Parliament since 1994. In 2011 the Red-Green Alliance trebled its votes from 2.2% to 6.7% and under Denmark’s proportional representation electoral system, increased its seats from four to 12. In the local elections of 2013, the Red-Green Alliance made further gains, winning over 100 council seats and becoming the second largest party on the council of the capital, Copenhagen, a bastion controlled the Social Democratic Party since 1903.
A raft of the first opinion polls since the election was called showed the Red-Green Alliance further increasing its national poll share beyond that of 2011, ranging from 7.7% to 10.2%, which if it were translated into votes on 18th June would give the Red-Green Alliance a further increase in seats.
The Social Democratic Party is currently leading in the polls with around 25% of the vote, but may struggle to form a coalition as its former allies the Socialist People’s Party and the Social Liberal Party have paid the price for supporting the austerity policies of the coalition and have each slumped to around 6% in polls, behind the Red-Green Alliance. The Social Democrat leader, Helle Thorning-Schmid, was seen recently in the British General Election as she is the wife of newly elected Labour MP, Stephen Kinnock, and daughter-in-law of former Labour leader Neil Kinnock.
Worryingly, the far-right Danish People’s Party is showing in polls as winning around 20% of the vote and could become kingmaker in supporting a coalition of right-wing parties. This racist Party did well in the European elections last year and is aligned with the British Conservative Party in the European Parliament. It is strongly identified as being anti-immigrant, xenophobic and against multi-culturalism.
During the last four years in the Danish Parliament, the Red-Green Alliance has established its reputation by strongly opposing austerity and spoking out against militarism and xenophobia. There are a range of views inside the party which has grown rapidly to nearly 10,000 members in a country less than one tenth the size of Britain. Some of the leaders of the party have wanted to make concessions to the Social Democratic Party, but this has been opposed by the Danish Fourth Internationalists and the party has held together. A collection of articles about the recent period in Denmark can be found International Viewpoint http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?mot15
Following the victory of Syriza in the Greek General Election in January and the challenge of Podemos in recent Spanish state local elections, the Danish General Election on Thursday 18th June represents a further opportunity for supporters of Left Unity in Britain to learn from the advance of radical broad left parties and the movement against austerity across Europe. It will be followed before the end of the year by Spanish and Portuguese General Elections, where radical left wing anti-austerity parties will also be strongly in contention.