Denmark’s Leftist Parties Force Social Democrats to Reverse Anti-Immigrant Policies
Guest Post by a Member of the Swedish SAP: The four left/centre-left parties in Denmark have agreed to form a government and have unveiled their government agenda. The coalition is made up of the Social Democrats, Radikale Venstre (“Radical Left”, but actually a social liberal party), The Alternative (basically the Green party), and Socialist People’s Party. There is a high share of young, first-generation academics with working class parents in the proposed cabinet.
Following the austerity of the previous centre-right government over the past 4 years, the centre-left coalition all campaigned on and have promised to increase welfare spending and financed by a more progressive tax code over the next government term. They have 91 out of 179 seats, a two-seat majority.
While there has been a lot of anxiety over the Social Democrats (SD) embracing anti-immigrant rhetoric and proposals to win, a lot of them have been dropped in the negotiations. Although the Social Democrats are the largest party and clearly leading the coalition, the other three parties played hardball on immigration and climate change and got most of what they wanted.
This was all made easier by the Number 2 of the Social Democrats (Henrik Larsson) suddenly declaring that he isn’t available to be in the cabinet and won’t stand for election next time. He was the main architect of the Social Democrats’ rightward shift on immigration and was widely expected to become Finance Minister. He was also staunchly pro-Israel, so his absence will likely mean that Denmark will become more pro-Palestinian on foreign policy.
Here’s a quick run-down of the major points of the agreement:
- Introduce binding climate goal and present a new climate law, with the aim of reducing climate gas emissions to 30% of the 1990 level by 2030 (huge victory for climate activists).
- Introduction of a dedicated climate budget.
- Climate evaluation of all public policies to be included in the economic models of the Ministry of Finance.
- Following Sweden’s lead with a full stop of sale of new diesel and petrol cars from 2030 and strengthening environmental zones.
- Secure a large “climate contribution” from the agricultural sector.
- Introduce a legally binding minimum level of educators/caregivers in kindergartens and nurseries (gradually done towards 2025); childcare problems were a major issue in this election.
- 300 million Danish Kronor (about 40 million Euros) for a temporary cash aid program to families with children 0–14 years old who are hit by the cash allowance ceiling and the (ultra low) integration allowance while a commission looks into these benefit systems (basically, it’s a welfare trap/gray zone).
- Abolishing the so-called National Test (10 exams over 7 subjects from the second to eighth grades)
- Propose abolishing the re-prioritization contribution (a mechanism by which the state takes money from the municipalities).
- Abolish the limit on how much publicly paid education one person can get.
- Preserve Denmark’s current organization on regional lines
- Introduce consent-based rape criteria (if there is no active verbal or non-verbal consent, it’s rape)
- Train and hire more healthcare personnel
- More beds in psychiatric wards
- Lower copays for dental services (they prefer to make it totally free if possible) for the socially vulnerable.
- Implement their proposed early retirement plan for senior citizens
- Companies and welfare institutions able to provide concrete proof of labor shortages on a minimum skill level shall be able to hire overseas with a fast and non-bureaucratic process
- Increased funding for the Working Environment Authority (workplace regulation agency)
- Make it a top priority of foreign policy to seek international support for a more human and better coordinated asylum system within international law (dream is to have a global asylum system)
- New deportation center for families with children (issue of overcrowding at current facilities)
- New leaving center for expelled criminals — NOT the widely-criticized SD proposal to send them to the island of Lindholm or to a processing center in North Africa
- Taking UN-quota refugees again, which Denmark has not done since 2016
- Refugees can stay in Denmark even if their home countries are determined to be safe if they have had employment for two years
One of the biggest compromises that actually can leave us all happy is that the Social Democrats will get their expanded pension play (early retirement) in addition to the other parties getting their way on immigration. There were fears that if immigration was loosened while the pension plan failed, it would wipe out the working class gains that the Social Democrats worked hard to get in this election.
Major sticking points coming up during this government’s term are housing and defense policy, but it’s nothing that threatens the stability of the government.