Comment: The Social Democrats have created election history in Denmark Thursday. They not only ended ten years of right-wing rule in Denmark and the role of the right-wing populist and xenophobic Danish People’s Party’s (DPP) in the passage of anti-immigration legislation, but will give the country its first woman prime minister.
The center-left alliance led by Social Democrat Helle Thorning-Schmidt won in Thursday’s election 92 of the 179 seats of the Danish parliament.
“We did it. We wrote history,” said Thorning-Schmidt.
Thorning-Schmidt, who has vowed to stem the influence of the DPP, which has divided Danish society and changed dramatically the political culture of the country. The DPP is the Perussuomalaiset’s unofficial mentor party on immigration and refugee policy.
Writes Spiegel Online International: “In recent years, the Danish People’s Party has been a regular fixture in the international headlines. At one point, the party calculated the total cost of foreign immigrants to the country. It also succeeded in forcing the government to implement permanent border controls, sidestepping the Schengen Agreement on open borders and alienating Denmark from its European Union neighbors. Most recently, party leader Pia Kjaersgaard pledged that all Danes would be provided with free supplies of pepper spray.
“There is a large consensus going deep into conservative Danish circles that the cooperation between the conservative-liberals and the conservatives in government with the right-populists ruined the country’s political culture,” the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten wrote in an editorial. “It was time for a new government. An era in Danish politics has ended.”
Pentti Joenniemi, who has lived as a researcher in Denmark for fifteen years, said in Kansan Uutiset Viikolehti that Denmark’s xenophobic streak stems from the lack of outside enemies. Immigrants have then become the “enemy,” according to him. Joenniemi believes that Finland is following the same path as Denmark. As Russia becomes less of a threat, xenophobia will begin to lift its head in Finland in the same way it has in Denmark.
Danes awoke to a change of power on Friday after election results showed a narrow loss for the long-ruling center-right government. The country’s new center-left leader will be the first woman prime minister in Danish history, but Helle Thorning-Schmidt faces difficult coalition talks ahead.