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Denmark’s newest party voices ambitions at Folkemødet

Eager volunteers busy gathering the necessary number of signatures needed to get the party on the ballot

Needing over 20,000 signatures in order to stand in elections, Elbæk has a goal of eight to ten MPs in parliament within five years (Photo: Ray Weaver)

June 16, 2014

by Ray Weaver

All of the major political parties were represented along the main drag at Folkemødet. Like carnival barkers, the faithful beckoned the masses in with free food, coffee, water and promises. Your DFs, your SFs, your Venstres, your Enhedslisten … all of them and more were prominently placed and had spots on the main stage 'up on the hill'.

About a kilometre away, in a small, nondescript tent, the former culture minister, Uffe Elbæk, was gathering signatures to get his new party called Alternativet (The Alternative) a spot in parliament.  It needs to collect over 20,000 signatures in order to stand election, and Elbæk has a goal of eight to ten MPs in parliament within five years.

“The problems we face now cannot be solved by working independently,” he said. “The various sectors – public, private, NGOs – they all have skills and disciplines that need to be combined to bring about change in Denmark.”

Elbæk called this cross-pollination of sectors the “fourth sector”.

“We should have probably thought of a sexier name, but it’s out there now, so we are going to stick with it," he said.

READ MORE: Uffe Elbæk starts new political party

Big changes needed
Elbæk mentioned the Roskilde Festival and the group that puts it on as an organisation that handles a massively complex undertaking every year. He said that those skills could and should be used in other parts of society.

Elbæk said that the new party is more than just another part, it is “a political movement and a cultural voice”, with a goal to change politics, not just in Denmark but across the world.

“We need complete changes, like in the days of the first educational reforms in Denmark," he said.

Alternativet, said Elbæk, will focus on sustainability, the environment and culture.

“It is not enough to just have a job and a pay check. One should enjoy their work and have a good life as well.”

The group leans heavily on its online presence, and while the eager volunteers were having luck gathering the signatures needed to get the party on the ballot, one said that the ability of people to be able to sign up online has given the effort a big boost.

“They still have to go to the website, sign up, and then we send them a form they have to send back by regular mail, but it is helping,” he said.

Whether this is enough to get them a clutch of MPs within five years remains to be seen, but on a sunny day in Allinge, the faithful and the curious seemed to think Alternativet might just have a shot.

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