A bit about the upcoming local elections in Denmark
Local elections are fast approaching here in Denmark. The elections this time around are remarkable, because an administrative reform being introduced as we speak is decreasing the number of counties from 271 to just 98, which means that large numbers of "local kings" are battling it out. With the success of the rightwing government, and the addition of many normally right-voting counties to generally left-dominated urban counties, several urban leftist strongholds are threatened.
Though Denmarks capital, Copenhagen, isnt affected by the reform, the mayoral election there promises to be the most interesting. Late summer/early fall saw a scandal about quite controversial statements on islamic immigrants appearing on the website and in some campaign material of the Danish People´s Party´s candidate, Louise Frevert. Started after a formal "declaration of war" by the fundamentalist humanist Minority Party, the media campaign soon degenerated into a contest of who could throw the most muck in her direction.
Granted, her controversial past proved her wide open to attack - she´s an openly lesbian anti-immigration politician who got her initial fame as a nationally known belly dancer. Further back, she was a small-time porn star in the 70s, which promptly led to some circles circulating pictures from a movie she "acted" in. The whole scandal was completed by a tabloid interviewing a supposed former girlfriend of hers, adding sadism (as in sado-masochism) and worship of nazi styles (supposedly popular among SM´ers) to the range of accusations. In the end, she took a leave of absence from parliament (shes an MP, too), and has more or less remained incommunicado since.
That leaves a field of three candidates in the race:
Ritt Bjerregård (64), candidate for the Social Democrats. She has been politically active since the late 1960s (MP from 1971), has been a government minister 3 times, and EU commisioner once. Her carreer has been marred by a series of scandals following her wherever she goes, but at the same time, she is seen as pretty much the person with the biggest cojones in the Social Democratic Party. Including her male colleagues.
Klaus Bondam (42), candidate for the Radicals. Openly gay, he is an actor who bartered his face-recognition for an election to Copenhagens city council. His political experience amounts to a whopping 3 years there, and he seems to entirely rely on cashing in on people already knowing him - just not for his oppinions. To that end, he has been hugging television cameras as if his life depended on it, up to taking part in a dancing show (he isnt a dancer).
Søren Pind (36), candidate for the Liberals. Though quite young, he has almost two decades worth of political activity under his belt, starting out in the Liberal party´s youth organisation. He has been part of the city council of Copenhagen for the last 11 years.
The main topic in the race so far has been the problem of integrating the large groups of moslem immigrants in Copenhagen. There, it has been Søren Pind who came up witht he most wide-ranging proposals. From Jyllands-Posten:
From his city hall post, Pind has worked on the construction of the underground railway system, and is now interested in digging a harbour tunnel under the city as a way to ease traffic congestion.
The one issue that has overshadowed all other of Pind's policies, however, has been immigration, after he launched a much-discussed strategy for integration in the city. The strategy's 14 points include plans to dissolve some of the city's 'ethnic' ghettoes, implement more discipline in schools, and re-educate teachers to tackle the challenges of multicultural classes.
The points that received most media attention were Pind's plans to crack down on immigrant criminality, including a zero-tolerance approach to misdemeanours, an active effort to eradicate 'Mid-Eastern honour concepts', and a suggestion to the government to implement a 'three strikes and you're out' policy towards foreign citizens, automatically sentencing them to deportation after committing their third crime.
The strategy was fuelled by rising public concerns about crime in the city after reports of gang wars, shootings, and demands for blood money in certain immigrant circles.
Pind's tough line, however, did not seem to win him favour with the media nor the city's voters. A Gallup poll published on 31 October revealed that only 9 percent of respondents felt he was the most trustworthy candidate, compared with Bjerregaard's 54 percent. An earlier poll indicated that especially women were sceptical of his stance on immigrants.
While outlining Pins views fairly nicely, the last paragraph is an outright lie, however. A bit more than a month ago, a poll revealed that most inhabitants of Copenhagen support Pinds plans. The support extends far onto the left wing, even including two in five communists. From the free daily Urban (my translation, and thanks to Filtrat for the link):
Two of three inhabitants of Copenhagen support Søren Pinds proposal to deport foreign citizens, who have thrice broken the penal code.
Two instances of shoplifting and a bit of graffiti on a wall will be enough to get you deported from the country, if you a foreign citizen. That is how MP and Liberal candidate for the post of mayor, Søren Pind, who a month ago proposed to expel foreign citizens if they break the penal code thrice, thinks. And the people of Copenhagen are positive. 67.4 per cent of the people of Copenhagen declare that they are totally or partially in agreement with the proposal. That is what an internet-based questionnaire-survey, that has been conducted by the polling institute Istant-Answer, shows. "Maybe some politicians are too far away from the problems. But for the citizens, it is a very real problem, that they seek a solution to", is Søren Pinds comment to the poll. Support for the proposal doesnt only come from the voters who support the Liberals and Danish People´s Party. ..
Among voters, who want to vote for the Unity List (=communists - Henrik) in the local elections, 41.1 per cent er wholly or partially in agreement. With Social Democrats, abut 64.2 per cent agree totally or partially with Søren Pinds proposal. "It is some surprising high numbers. But it wont become the policy of the Unity List. "It is an insane proposal, whose only function is to brutalize the integration debate," says City Councillor for Education and Youth Per Bregengaard (Unity List). Candidate for the post of mayor for the Social Democrats, Ritt Bjerregaard, isnt surprised by the numbers. "It is a result of people wanted to be rid of crime. There is nothing odd about that, but it can be done without having to deport anyone," says Ritt Breegaard. Among Radical voters, too, support for the proposal is big. 57.7 per cent declare themselves wholly or partially in agreement with Søren pind, and with the Socialist People´s Party, the number is 41.1 per cent
While I´m at it, a bit of background on City Councillor for Education and Youth Per Bregengaard. Its an aside, but it illustrates leftist double morals quite well. Coming from the Unity List (=communists), Bregengaard is ideologically opposed to private schools, and was behind a campaign to have the Danish parents of Copenhagen send their children into the public schools, about half of whom are immigrant-majority. The campaign was to bring "resource-strong" children into the schools, thus alleviating the dismal failure than a century of leftist school policy has produced there (a quarter of Copenhagen´s pupils were judged to be functional analphabets earlier this year).
Bregengaard sends his own children to a private school, and thus refuses to subject his own children to the policy he subjects other people´s children to.
More on the election shortly. Terrorist apologia, fex.
For background on the political system in Denmark, go here.
If you just want a short run-down of what the Danish parties are about, go here.