- Danish People's Party
Danish People's Party
Leader Pia Kjærsgaard Founded 6 October 1995 Split from Progress Party Headquarters Christiansborg,
1240 København K
Youth wing Youth of the Danish People's Party Membership 10,000 (2009) Ideology National conservatism
Political position Right-wing International affiliation None European affiliation None European Parliament Group Europe of Freedom and Democracy Official colours Red, White Parliament European Parliament Regional Councils Municipal Councils Election symbol O Website www.danskfolkeparti.dk Politics of Denmark
The Danish People's Party (Danish: Dansk Folkeparti, DF) is a political party in Denmark which is frequently described as right-wing populist by political scientists and commentators. The party is led by Pia Kjærsgaard. Since the Parliamentary election in 2001 the party has supported a government consisting of the Liberal and Conservative parties, and these were in power until the election in 2011 (where a coalition of center-left parties won). While not being a part of the cabinet, the Danish People's Party maintained a close cooperation with the 2001–2011 government parties on most issues. In return for their parliamentary cooperation, the party required support for their political stances.
The party's expressed goals are to protect the freedom and cultural heritage of the Danish people, including the family, the Monarchy and the Church of Denmark, to enforce a strict rule of law, to work against Denmark becoming a multi-ethnic society by limiting immigration and promoting cultural assimilation of admitted immigrants, to maintain a strong welfare system for those in need, and to promote entrepreneurship and economic growth by strengthening education and encouraging people to work, and to protect the environment and natural resources.
Despite some public and media ridicule, the party's popularity has grown since its inception, taking 25 seats in the 179-member Folketinget in the 2007 parliamentary election (13.8% of the vote, remaining the third largest party in Denmark.) They received 12.3% of the vote in the 2011 Parliamentary election, and this marked their first decline compared to earlier elections, although they maintained the position as the third largest party.
- 1 History
- 2 Policies
- 3 The popularity of DPP
- 4 Results
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Sources
- 8 External links
Early years (1995–2001)
The Danish People's Party was founded on 6 October 1995, after Pia Kjærsgaard, Kristian Thulesen Dahl, Poul Nødgaard and Ole Donner broke out from the Progress Party. Its first national convention was held in Vissenbjerg on 1 June 1996, where Pia Kjærsgaard was unanimously elected as the party's chairman. The party was established in protest over the "anarchistic conditions" of the Progress Party, and its "all or nothing" policies. It was initially seen by many as a "clone" of the Progress Party, but this was soon proved false. In a struggle to be respected as a responsible party able to cooperate with others and distance it from the conditions in the Progress Party, the leadership of the party struck down criticism from its members by means of expulsions. The party saw a highly centralized party leadership as necessary, as it would not tolerate internal conflicts and disagreements with the official strategy.
The formation of the party represented a shift in the Nordic right-wing populist scene. The party was the first successful parliamentary party in the Nordic countries to relate philosophically more closely to the French Nouvelle Droite, than to the previous "milder" Nordic form of right-wing populism. More specifically, the Danish People's Party represented a synthesis of three political currents: the Christian right related to the periodical Tidehverv, an intellectual Nationalist right from the Danish Association (Den Danske Forening) and conservative populists from the Progress Party.
In 1997, the party won about 7% in the municipal elections, and did very well in traditional left-wing municipalities, potentially rivaling the Social Democrats. By 1998, the party had 2,500 registered members. The party made its electoral debut in the 1998 Danish parliamentary election, winning 13 seats and 7.4% of the vote. The party was however left with no influence in regard to the formation of a government, and it was generally largely kept out in the cold, particularly as it was considered to not be stuerent (i.e. not acceptable or "housebroken").
Conservative-Liberal coalition (2001–2011)
In the 2001 election, the party won 12% of the vote and 22 seats in parliament. It became the third largest party in the parliament, giving them a key position, as they would have a parliamentary majority together with the Conservative People's Party and Venstre. The Danish People's party was favoured by these parties, as it had supported the Venstre candidate for Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, during the election campaign. Eventually, it gave its parliamentary support for a Conservative-Liberal coalition government, headed by Prime Minister Rasmussen, in exchange for the implementation of some of their key demands, first and foremost stricter policies on immigration. The party had a key role in writing the rules and conditions for immigration in the immigration law that was established by the government in May 2002, which it called "Europe's strictest".
In the 2005 election the party further increased their vote, and won 13.2% of the vote and 24 seats. By young first-time voters the party showed even more popular, receiving one fifth of their votes. The party continued to support the government, and developed a broader policy base, as it made welfare policies its core issue, together with immigration policies.
In 2006, the party's popularity rose dramatically in opinion polls following the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, at the expense of the Social Democrats. The average of all monthly national polls showed the Danish People's Party to gain seven seats in parliament from January to February, with the Social Democrats losing an equal amount. This effect, however, somewhat waned with the falling media attention to the cartoons controversy.
In the 2007 parliamentary election, the Danish People's Party won 13.9 % and 25 seats, and again continued to support the Conservative-Liberal government. Thus, in every election since its founding the party has had a steady growth, although the growth rate has stagnated somewhat in recent years. Parties in the political centre, particularly the newly founded New Alliance had sought to become the kingmaker and be able to isolate the immigration policies of the DPP, but eventually failed.
In the 2009 elections for the European Parliament the prime candidate for the party, Morten Messerschmidt, won his seat in a landslide with 284,500 personal votes (most votes for any single candidate by any party); thus giving the party a second seat (which went to Anna Rosbach Andersen). The party made a breakthrough from its previous results in European elections, more than doubling its vote to 15.3%, and receiving 2 MEPs.
The party holds that Denmark is not naturally a country of immigration, and that it has never been so. The party also does not accept a multi-ethnic transformation of Denmark, and rejects multiculturalism. Party leader Pia Kjærsgaard has stated she does "not want Denmark as a multiethnic, multicultural society", and that a multiethnic Denmark would be a "national disaster". The party seek to drastically reduce non-Western immigration, oppose islamisation, and favour cultural assimilation of immigrants. In 2010, the party proposed to put a complete stop to all immigration from non-Western countries, a continuation of a proposal the month before to toughen the 24 year rule.
Cooperation with the Conservative-Liberal coalition government resulted in the implementation of some of their key demands, most importantly strong restrictions in immigration policies, which have resulted in what it described as Europe's strictest immigration laws. The new government enacted rules that prevented Danish citizens and others from bringing a foreign spouse into the country unless both partners were aged 24 or over, passed a solvency test showing the Dane had not claimed social security for 12 months and could lodge a bond of 60,011 kroner (about 10,100 USD). One declared aim of this was to fight arranged marriages. These new rules had the effect that while about 8,151 family reunification permits were granted in 2002, the number had fallen to 3,525 by 2005. Some social benefits for refugees were also cut by 30-40% during their first seven years in the country, ordinary unemployment benefits being replaced by a reduced "start-up aid". Whereas the government coalition's declared aim with this was to improve integration by inciting people to work, immigration spokesman Søren Krarup of the Danish People's Party has expressed his content in that the start-up aid has decreased the number of economic refugees greatly, showing them that "one does not find gold in the streets in Denmark".
The party wants to improve conditions for the elderly and disabled, and stricter punishments for crimes such as rape, violence, sexual abuse, reckless driving and cruelty to animals. It supports grants for specific research into terrorism, Islamism and cold-war history, and an increased defense spending. It also wants to maintain the Danish monarchy and the current Danish constitution, and to abolish the blasphemy clause and 'hate speech' clause in the Danish criminal code.
The party opposes a cession of Denmark's sovereignty to the EU, wants to maintain the Danish krone, and opposes the accession of Turkey to the European Union. The party supports Israel in its conflict with Hamas and the US-led War on Terrorism. The party seeks international recognition of Taiwan, supports Taiwan in its disputes with China and supports a free Tibet. The party also supports harsher criticism of, and sanctions against, totalitarian regimes and dictatorships (especially communist and faux-Islamic regimes). In 2007, the party opposed the Danish government's plan to recognise the independence of Kosovo, and maintained the territorial integrity of Serbia.
Throughout the history of the Danish People's Party, its leaders have sought popularity through controversial polarising stances that have resonated with the electorate but shaken the established political order:
The changes to Denmark's immigration laws drew some criticism from the former social democratic government of Sweden, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner. In a response to the criticism from the Swedish government, Pia Kjærsgaard said: "If they want to turn Stockholm, Gothenburg or Malmö into a Scandinavian Beirut, with clan wars, honour killings and gang rapes, let them do it. We can always put a barrier on the Øresund Bridge."
The popularity of DPP
Since its founding, the party gained electoral support in the first three elections. While opposition to mass immigration and Islamification is central to the aims of the party, other issues are thought to have added to the popularity of the party:
- Ideological Novelty: The DPP combines support of the welfare state, and particularly benefits for pensioners, with strongly conservative policies on immigration and law and order. As such it is distinctive from the mainstream parties and offers policies which appeal across the traditional right-left dividing line. Polls have shown that a great deal of the party's voters are former Social Democrats, concerned with the decline of the welfare state. An analysis by the trade union SiD after the 2001 election stated that among unskilled workers aged under 40, 30% voted for DPP and only 25% for the Social Democrats.
- Decreased importance of "economic cleavage": Several authors believe that the political "cleavages" of European societies have changed over recent decades. (Hout et al. 1996) 55–56). Contemporary Western European democracies are characterized by two major cleavage dimensions: the economic cleavage dimension, which pits workers against the capital, and which concerns the degree of state involvement in the economy, and the socio-cultural cleavage dimension, which is about issues such as immigration, law and order, abortion, and so on. (Rydgren ) Rydgren believes that DF has become increasingly popular as the economic cleavage's importance has dropped, alienating many working class voters from their traditional parties such as the Social Democrats.
- Euroscepticism: In Denmark, only two parties have been against all new EU treaties throughout their existence. Those parties are DPP and the left-wing Enhedslisten. Whereas most politicians favour a more dominant EU, public opinion is broadly skeptical and in favour of the nation state keeping its powers. Referendums brought the rejection of the Maastricht treaty and the Euro. The DPP has managed to harness this scepticism more effectively than the left-wingers.
- Outspokenness (populism): Some analysts believe that Pia Kjærsgaard, a former home care assistant for elders, appeals well to the 'common man' because she is different from the traditional political class of economists and academics. In combination with her critical stance towards non-Western immigration and Islam, this has given her strong support among workers and lower middle class voters. Danish political commentators generally acknowledge that Pia Kjærsgaard and her party maintain clear and direct stances on the most central political issues of the party, and have been able to set the agenda more than the size of the party would make one expect.
An interesting feature, compared to other Danish parties, is that the Danish People's Party is usually underrepresented by about 1-1.5 % in opinion polls. Election researchers have suggested that the party's voters may be less interested in politics, and therefore declining to talk to pollsters, or that voters are reluctant to reveal non-politically-correct opinions to pollsters.
Election # of seats won # of total votes % of popular vote 1998 13 252,429 7.4% 2001 22 413,987 12.0% 2005 24 444,205 13.2% 2007 25 479,532 13.8% 2011 22 436.726 12.3%
European Parliament elections
Election # of seats won # of total votes % of popular vote 1999 1 114,865 5.8% 2004 1 128,789 6.8% 2009 2 357,942 15.3%
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- Meret, Susi (2010). The Danish People’s Party, the Italian Northern League and the Austrian Freedom Party in a Comparative Perspective: Party Ideology and Electoral Support (PhD thesis). SPIRIT PhD Series. 25. University of Aalborg. ISSN 1903-7783. http://vbn.aau.dk/da/publications/the-danish-peoples-party-the-italian-northern-league-and-the-austrian-freedom-party-in-a-comparative-perspective-party-ideologyand-electoral-support%280a7918a0-583a-11df-9ad7-000ea68e967b%29.html.
- (Danish) Dansk Folkeparti - Official site
- The Party Program of the Danish People's Party Official website (page in English).
Political parties in DenmarkBracketed numbers indicate numbers of seats in the respective parliaments. The FolketingVenstre (47) · Social Democrats (44) · Danish People's Party (22) · Danish Social Liberal Party (17) · Socialist People's Party (16) · Red-Green Alliance (12) · Liberal Alliance (9) · Conservative People's Party (8) · Siumut (Greenland) (1) · Inuit Ataqatigiit (Greenland) (1) · Social Democratic Party (Faroe Islands) (1) · Union Party (Faroe Islands) (1) · European
Danish parliamentary election, 2007 Parties running in Denmark proper Parties running in the Faroe Islands Parties running in Greenland Candidates for Prime Minister Other notable candidates
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