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Danish People's Party

The Danish People's Party (Dansk Folkeparti) is a social conservative, national conservative political party in Denmark. In the 2007 parliamentary election, it took 25 seats in the 179-member Folketinget (an unexpected increase of 1 seat), with 13.8% of the vote, remaining the third largest party in Denmark.

Since 2001 the party has supported a government consisting of the Liberal and Conservative parties. While not being a part of the cabinet, the Danish People's Party maintains a close cooperation with the government parties on most issues.

The Danish People's Party's officially regards itself as center-right, but has been accused of being right-wing, populist, or xenophobic by those who oppose it.

In order to support the present right wing government the Danish People's Party has insisted on a very strict policy towards immigrants and refugees.

Its chairwoman is Pia Kjærsgaard. In the European Parliament, its single MEP, Mogens Camre, sits as a member of the Union for a Europe of Nations grouping.

History

The party was founded on October 6, 1995, after Pia Kjærsgaard, Kristian Thulesen Dahl, Poul Nødgaard and Ole Donner left the Progress Party. The party made its electoral debut in the 1998 Danish parliamentary election, winning 13 seats. Later, in the 2001 election, they won 22 seats. They became the third largest party in the parliament and supported the Conservative-Liberal coalition government, headed by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in exchange for the implementation of some of their key demands, for example strict policies on immigration. The party won 24 seats in the 2005 election.

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. This effect, however, somewhat waned with the falling media attention to the cartoons controversy.

In the November 2007 parliamentary elections, the Danish People's Party got 13.9 % and 25 seats (a gain of 0.7 % and one seat). Thus, in every election since its founding the party has had a steady growth, although the growth rate has stagnated somewhat in recent years. 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 afraid to reveal non-polically-correct opinions to pollsters.

Policies

Core issues

Immigration

Other domestic

Foreign

Results

Cooperation with the Conservative-Liberal coalition government resulted in the implementation of some of their key demands, such as strong immigration restriction policies, which have resulted in what have been 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 55,241 kroner (about 9300 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 DPP supported the coalition government in deploying Danish military forces to Iraq.

In March 2007, DPP representatives (such as Peter Skaarup) proposed that forced 'chemical castration' should be used on sexual offenders.

Critique

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 Kjaersgaard 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 remark was offensive to many Swedes, and she later insisted that the remark about the Øresund Bridge was meant to be ironic.

Controversy

The party has been part of controversy, especially because of their criticism of immigration and Muslims, who compose approximately 2 % to 5 % of the total Danish population.

Like other members of the party, party leader Pia Kjærsgaard has been accused of racism several times. In 2003, Pia Kjærsgaard lost a libel suit against a Communist opponent, Karen Sunds, who had characterized her as having "racist views". Two lower courts ruled in favour of Kjærsgaard, but the Supreme Court acquitted Sunds of libel. The court based its decision on a deposition of the Danish Language Board, stating that the word "racist" now has a wider meaning than just racism, including anything deemed "discriminating" or "xenophobic". This verdict leaned on a former ruling of the European Court of Human Rights.

A member of parliament, Søren Krarup, has said that “Islam has for 1,400 years attempted to conquer and repress European Christianity...” According to Le Monde of December 11, 2005, an imam requested the censure of Søren Krarup who, speaking in Parliament, drew a comparison between Muslim women who wear headscarves and other totalitarian symbols: "It may sound offensive, but Islam is a totalitarian regime that has thousands of human lifes on its conscience. The headscarf is a symbol of this regime and the Quran may very well be compared with Hitler's 'Mein Kampf'." Party leader Pia Kjærsgaard has also drawn domestic criticism for lashing out at Danish Islamic organizations who had criticized the publication of caricatures of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, by describing them as a "fifth column" and "seeds of weed".

The party is known to have a centralized style of leadership and a lower tolerance for dissenting opinions, as compared to most other Danish parties. Parliamentary candidates need to be approved by the central board, and members have several times been excluded for raising public critique of the leading figures. The official party line states these measures are necessary to avoid internal fights as those that led to the split-up of the Progress Party, a predecessor of the DPP.

In August 2006 undercover journalists of the tabloid Ekstra Bladet contacted 18 local districts of the DPP, saying that they were members of Dansk Front and wanted to join the DPP. Dansk Front, or "Danish Front", is a now-defunct extreme-right network which among other things advocated the banning of Islam, and was accused by the Danish secret police of close cooperation with neo-Nazi groups such as Blood & Honour and Combat 18. Half of the Dansk Folkeparti district chairmen turned the request down, whereas the other half said party membership was OK, provided any extreme-right views were kept private. When the tabloid published the story, this caused a scandal, following which the latter nine district chairmen were excluded from the party..

On May 5th, 2008, Kristian Tuesen Dahl responded to criticism from Integration Minister Birte Rønn Hornbech (Venstre), who had called the Danish People's Party "fanatical anti-Muslims", by saying: "In many ways, we are anti-Muslims", but he, at the same time, denied that they were fanatical.

The popularity of DPP

The DPP have been met with controversy from the other parties and from the press ever since the party was founded. However, starting with a modest number of votes, the party has grown at every single election since then. While immigration policy 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.
  • 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: Some analysts believe that Pia Kjærsgaard, a former domestic nurse, 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, and have been able to set the agenda more than the size of the party would make one expect. However, criticals combine this acknowledgement with accusations of hypocrisy, 'shrill rethorics' or racism.

Quotes

"The Islamic political-religious movement deals with world supremacy, as did other fanatic political ideologies in history. This world supremacy they are not able to achieve by military means, but try to achieve by flooding the world with people. All the countries of the West are infiltrated by Muslims – and some of them speak nicely to us while they are waiting to become sufficiently numerous to get rid of us as they have done in Sudan, Indonesia, Nigeria and the Balkans. Note: the written copy of Camre's speech, as handed out at the meeting, has been claimed to state "kill us" in place of "have us removed".()

"It has been mentioned that September 11 became the beginning of a fight between civilizations. I don't agree about this, because a fight between civilisations would imply that there were two civilisations, and that is not the case. There is only one civilization, and that is ours. Our opponents can't plead to belong to a civilisation, because a civilised world would never be able to carry out an attack which contains so much hatred, so much savagery, so much abomination. With this, I regard September 11 as an attack on civilisation itself. On the civilisation which decent people have built up during decades and centuries, and which is based on uprightness and freedom. The others want to implement ferocity, the primitive, the barbaric, the medieval.

"We know the problem lies in those Muslim groups that come from the Middle East, and that other immigrant groups are harmless. So if Denmark shall not lock itself in totally, we have to distinguish between ethnic and religious groups. In fact I mean simply Muslims from all countries and not just in the Middle East.

"Criticism of Islam as such and Muslims in general are not the political business of DPP. But direct, purposeful, unambiguous critique of and dissociation from Islamism and Islamists are both welcome and necessary.

"The [Muslim] veil is a political manifestation, like how the black shirts were for the Fascists of Italy, or the Swastika was for the troops of Hitler."

"I believe that all Muslim communities are, by definition, loser communities. The Muslims are not capable of critical thinking."

"The Social Security Act is passé because it was tailored to a Danish family tradition and work ethic and not to Muslims, for whom it is fair to be provided for by others while the wife gives birth to a lot of children. The child benefit grant is being taken advantage of, as an immigrant achieves a record income due to [having] just under a score of children. New punishment limits must be introduced for group rapes because the problem only arrived with the vandalism of the many anti-social second-generation immigrants."

Results

Election # of seats won # of total votes % of popular vote
1998
13
252,429
7.4%
2001
22
413,987
12%
2005
24
444,205
13.2%
2007
25
478,638
13.8%

See also

Further reading

  • Rydgren, Jens (2004). "Explaining the Emergence of Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties: The Case of Denmark". West European Politics 27 (3): 474–502.

References

External links

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