To beat the new right wing, we must talk up immigration

If Danskernes Parti and Nye Borgerlige get into parliament, 40 years of progress could be reversed as a new anti-refugee and immigration arms race begins

It’s impossible to misunderstand the priorities of far-right political party Danskernes Parti (Party of the Danes). Led by Daniel Carlsen, a former member of the Neo-Nazi Danish National Socialist Movement (DNSB), the party is driven by an all-consuming fear of immigrants, foreigners and refugees.

Their anti-immigration policies include a wish to deport all ‘non-westerners’ and people who have ‘non-western’ ancestry, leaving the European Union and having a foreign policy mantra that reads “Every country for its own people”. The party wants to ignore international human rights and refugee conventions and stated (referring to the Danish citizenship test) that no “African who has learnt the answers to 40 questions” could ever become Danish.

While Danskernes Parti’s presence in the Danish parliament is a scary enough prospect in itself, there is no way the party will be able to change much on their own.

But they aren’t the only far-right party trying to get on the next ballot. The Nye Borgerlige stand a good chance at running in the next election with a hardcore anti-immigration, anti-EU and anti-welfare agenda.

With the possible introduction of two such aggressive political parties, the fight for voters on the right wing could become a brutal, chaotic and hateful race to the bottom.

Over the past two decades the Danish People’s Party (DF) has steadily increased their power and influence through their hostile anti-immigration rhetoric. Their strategy has been to swap government support for anti-immigration policies. Despite being a pro-welfare party they have repeatedly voted for cuts to social services in order to serve their primary interest – keeping out immigrants.

Their success in last year’s election, where they won 21 percent of the vote, came amidst the largest refugee crises in recent European history – a crisis that has undoubtedly had a palpable and possibly long-term influence on Danish foreign policy.

Their success demonstrates a continued appetite among the Danish public for anti-immigration policies. But DF might now be too mainstream. Their inability to push through some of their most sought after policies, such as permanent border controls, has encouraged parties such as Nye Borgerlige and Danskernes Parti to seek influence in parliament.

Both parties will need 20,109 signatures to qualify for the next ballot, which is almost certain for Nye Borgelige, and a distinct possibility for Danskernes Parti. Should they run, the rhetoric on refugees, immigrants and foreigners will undoubtedly become increasingly aggressive and hateful as the competition for right-wing voters heats up.

Even if the absolute number of right-wing voters remains the same, the increasingly hateful rhetoric could seep into the remaining parties. We have already seen how the Social Democrats  (Social Demokraterne) have moved to the right, and voted in favour of restrictions of refugee rights, in order to stop losing voters to DF. The introduction of a party as hateful as Danskernes Parti, and as cynical as Nye Borgerlige, could prompt a political trend that would scupper 40 years of progressive development that has seen Denmark move towards a modern and multicultural society.

For the sake of all of the immigrants who contribute to Danish society and help work towards making Denmark a wonderfully diverse and progressive place, let us hope Danskernes Parti do not get those 20,109 signatures.

If the party does manage to get on the ballot and ends up in parliament, there will be a tremendous need for the rest of political Denmark to distance itself from the far-right. The left wing needs to refocus the debate about the large numbers of refugees and migrants that have arrived in recent years, and shift it from focussing on the problems they present, to the long-term benefits they provide Denmark.

Great immigrant nations such as the US, the UK and Germany have shown us that long after the initial pressure on public finances and the economy, immigrants bring new ideas, innovation, hard work and cultural diversity. Apple was invented by second-generation immigrants, Youtube was invented by the son of a Bangladeshi immigrant, and Google was invented by a first-generation Russian immigrant.

In order to combat the chaos and hate, which could very well dominate the right wing of Danish politics in the very near future, the left wing must make the benefits of immigration palpable and understandable to frustrated Danish voters who are fearful of a more multicultural future. If they do not succeed, I fear for the diverse Denmark I love to call my home. M

Commentary, Uncategorized

By Joshua Hollingdale

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