After seeing their votes almost double during the last parliamentary election in 2011, national government coalition party Radikale is hoping that this will translate into a successful local election campaign this November.
The Copenhagen Post caught up with Radikale’s lead candidate and Copenhagen’s current deputy mayor for employment and integration, Anna Mee Allerslev, to hear about her party’s local election campaign platform and her goals for the city.
An international hub
It’s no secret that Copenhagen isn’t the best city in terms of welcoming and integrating its foreigners, and therefore a large part of Radikale’s focus is on the city’s international residents.
“None of the other parties have focused on the international agenda like we have,” Allerslev said.
Radikale wants to beef up International House in Copenhagen, the public-private partnership dedicated to helping immigrants settle in the city. The party also wants to provide more housing options for the city’s international students. An international public school in Copenhagen is also on the party’s agenda.
“We’re also striving for the English language to be the second official language here in the council. You should be able to get services in English wherever you go,” Allerslev said.
Allerslev believes that the city is moving in the right direction, but still has a long way to go.
“Because of the financial crisis, it is very difficult to tell our own citizens that we want to help the internationals, when it is clear that we are not doing enough for the Danes,” she said.
A greener, more diverse city
Although Allerslev argues that Copenhagen is a diverse city, she says the real question is what to do about it.
“We want the city to be more diverse and we want to have a lot of programmes and initiatives so that out diversity transforms into an advantage,” Allerslev said.
But it’s not just about ‘hard-core integration’. Soft initiatives are just as essential.
“We have some integration issues here, and of course we want to make better schools and daycares so that immigrants are properly integrated. But it’s not enough. We need to have positive programmes [like] culture and diversity festivals,” Allerslev said. “If immigrants don’t feel like they are a proper part of the city, we can never integrate them.”
And while Copenhagen remains one of the leading cities in the world when it comes to being ‘green’, Allersev says that here too there is room for improvement.
“We have always been a leading city when it comes to the green agenda – it’s one of the things that make Copenhagen a unique city,” Allerslev said. “A lot of it is about the bicycle culture, which Radikale has always been a leading force in.”
But Allerslev admitted that some of her constituents and colleagues feel that she hasn’t done enough to promote cycling.
“Four times a year public servants are paid to stand around the city spreading bicycling karma by handing out hearts and buns just to send a positive message,” Allerslev said. “I would rather use that money on bike lanes than those kinds of things. I support bicycles and the green agenda, but sometimes I think it can get too silly.”
Allerslev pointed to two cities that she hopes to emulate.
“I think we can do a lot more to be a green city, such as Vancouver, which is really green, with more trees and more grass in the city. Berlin is also better than we are in that respect. I would also like us to have more green areas, more parks and green roofs,” Allerslev said.
A party on the rise
At the 2011 parliamentary elections, Radikale almost doubled its voter numbers from 5.1 percent in 2007 to 9.5 percent – its best election result since 1973.
Allerslev is hoping for a similar success at the local level.
“We are among the smallest organisations, and we only have 350,000 kroner for the whole campaign,” Allerslev said. “Enhedslisten, for example, has 1.6 million kroner at its disposal. But, we hope we’re going to have a good election, and there are indications that we will, but you never know.”
Factfile | Anne Mee Allerslev
Years on the City Council: 4
• Youth and education
• Green solutions
• Traffic and city development
• Employment and growth
Next week: Party profiles of Dansk Folkeparti and Socialistisk Folkeparti