Friday, September 22, 2006

Danish PM reinforces Alliance with right populist party

The political Right in Denmark which is presently running the government and having a comfortable majority in parliament is moving closer together. PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen's top lieutenant, the minister of employment Claus Hjort Frederiksen, tells daily journal Politiken today that the governing liberalist party Venstre has developed a "community of value" with the right populists in the Danish People's Party (DPP). It is the DPP with its "Denmark for Danes" policies that is largely responsible for the tough stance on immigration issues and the confrontations during the cartoons crisis.

The liberalist-conservative government depends on the votes of the DPP in order to have a majority in parliament. This makes Pia Kjaersgaard, leader of the DPP, a very powerful politician in Denmark. She calls the shots when the restrictive Danish immigration policies are formulated.

Calling the relationship a "community of value" is Danish political newspeak that signals close ideological affinity. Venstre, Anders Fogh Rasmussen's governing party, is traditionally the liberalist party in Danish politics, favoring a limited, non-interventionist state and low-tax politicies. The Danes, however, are fond of their welfare state. So, in order to stay in power and win the next election, Fogh Rasmussen has been moving towards the centre. But in doing so he alienates the stauncher liberalist ideological elements of his party. The close relationship to the DPP makes the move towards the centre credible, as the DPP also favours welfare policies, especially towards the elderly who are a core electoral group for the party.

It is, however, only in the welfare field that the two parties are center parties. In foreign policy they both support Danish military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and a close relationship to the US. Development aid to third world countries has been cut down, and the previous close relationship to and support of Nordic countries' solidarity policies towards third world issues and national independence movements has been given up.

Continuing his newspeak Hjort Frederiksen defines the common ground of the two rightist parties: "We're preoccupied with the coherence of the Danish society, of being Danish and considering central values like freedom of speech and democracy. . ... We have a whole number of values in common". By connecting "being Danish" and "the values of freedom of speech and democracy", this top lieutenant of Anders Fogh Rasmussen makes a spiritual connection to the Mohammed cartoons case, which was a traumatic event in Danish politics that really divided the nation, pitting groups in the Danish ruling class against each others in ways that have not been seen in Danish politics before. By committing his party to the DPP, what Hjort Frederiksen is really saying is: We'll stand firmly together if we're confronted with "new onslaugths from islamists" who are not ready to accept the special Danish interpretation of freedom of speech, which implies the right to mock other people's faith in any way the Danes see fit.

It is also a warning to the political left in Denmark, which seems to be gaining electoral support in opinion polls: You can just come forward. We're ready for a fight. He is defining on what turf the fight will take place. It'll be on the turf of xenophobic politics where Fogh Rasmussen previously he has proved that he is the real master of spin and ceremonies.


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