Hoping to emulate the rise of the far-right in other European countries, Danskernes Parti (DP) is aiming to gain some political traction in the local and regional elections in November.
DP plans to run for election in six councils (Aarhus, Hjørring, Sønderborg, Brøndby, Copenhagen and Fredericia) and in all five regions with the exception of the Zealand Region. The head of the party, 23-year-old Daniel Carlsen, is running for election to Aarhus Council.
Carlsen has been affiliated to nationalistic groups since he was a teenager, and has made previous statements denying the Holocaust. In July he was acquitted on racism charges for remarks he made on a TV2 blog three years ago in which he wrote that “immigrants from low-IQ countries”, and immigration as a whole, are detrimental to Denmark in the long run.
While that represented a victory for Carlsen, he previously lost a complaint against Ekstra Bladet tabloid, which had referred to him as a Nazi. The national press council, Pressenævnet, ruled that because Carlsen had willingly posed in front of a flag with a swastika and publicly spoken out as a Nazi, his complaint was groundless.
But Carlsen is adamant that his past won’t influence his party’s chances at the elections.
“I don’t think the average voter will be influenced by the media’s campaign to try and scare them about us,” he said. “I think people will look at our politics and then decide whether they agree with us.”
A local focus
While DP’s main party priorities include getting Denmark out of the EU and getting rid of non-Western immigrants, Carlsen said that their goals for the upcoming council elections would focus more on local social issues.
“Our plans for the local elections are more socially orientated. We want to prioritise Danish labour over immigrants and eastern Europeans and we want to get rid of all taxpayer-funded integration activities. EU issues are not something we can do anything about in the local councils.”
Nationalist success in other countries
DP held its annual general meeting last weekend, which drew about 60 people. Key speakers included high-profile members of the Swedish nationalist party, Svenskarnas Parti, and the German NPD party.
Also present was a politician from Svoboda, the nationalist party in Ukraine, which went from having less than one percent of votes in the parliamentary elections of 2007 to over ten percent (two million votes) in the 2012 parliamentary elections.
DP is hoping to emulate Svoboda and Golden Dawn in Greece, which won seven percent of the votes in the last election.
“We are hoping to get a similar development in Denmark and other European countries and it is important for us to understand the experiences in, for example, Ukraine so we can handle the same situation in Denmark,” Carlsen said. “It’s also a matter of how we can develop, not a common European nationalism because there are of course national differences, but a focus on our common struggle in Europe.”
No void to fill
But DP’s attempt to gain a foothold in Danish politics faces an uphill battle. Ulrik Kjær, a professor from the department of political science at the University of Southern Denmark, argued that right-wing parties have failed to assert themselves in past elections.
“In the past three or four local elections, there have been other very small parties from the right wing who have tried to get some kind of political representation, and they have more or less all failed,” Kjær said. “So even though the party is trying to take advantage of the political system at a local level, it’s still pretty difficult to get represented.”
Local councils usually consist of about 25 people and DP would need approximately four percent of the votes to get represented – something that Kjær said would prove very difficult.
Kjær maintains that a precondition for right-wing parties such as DP to be successful is having immigration high on the election agenda, and discussions about halal meat aside, it is currently not. And besides, Kjær contends, there is an already-established party with a tough stance on immigration.
“I do not see immigration as being a huge issue in the local elections and that makes it so difficult for these right-wing parties that have immigration as one of their main themes,” Kjær said. “Some of the more established parties, like Dansk Folkeparti, already have a tough stance on these issues.”
While DP has exceeded the 75,000-kroner goal for its election coffers, there still seems to be a long way to go before Denmark has a potent nationalist party.
“We don’t expect the 2013 local election to be an election in which right-wing parties will have a window of opportunity,” Kjær said.