If there were to be an election today, at least 12 percent of Danes would vote for Enhedslisten, a political party that hopes to abolish the military and establish a classless society.
Enhedslisten’s radical socialist ideology is hardly a secret and in its party manifesto it calls for the dismantling of the EU and a strengthening of trade unions. But yesterday's announcement in Berlingske newspaper by one of its MPs, Per Clausen, that a revolution could happen in the next 20 years, has provoked warnings from its political opponents and allies alike.
Speaking to Berlingske, Clausen argued that the current economic crisis would help bring about the revolution.
“We can just look at what is happening in southern Europe right now. Things can also break down in Denmark through an economic collapse that will lead the population to realise that our politicians lack legitimacy. I don’t know anyone in Enhedslisten that does not believe in the revolution.”
Enhedslisten’s revolution would end the current capitalist structure by nationalising banks, closing stock exchanges, moving control of businesses into the hands of workers while also abolishing private property and equalising salaries.
Clausen said the revolution would be peaceful and happen through occupations and general strikes, though he conceded that some changes would take longer than others, particularly the equalisation of salaries.
“This will take generations and I don’t think anyone could imagine that it will happen within 20 years,” Clausen told the press. “I am sure that even under socialism we will need an economy and salaries to encourage people to do unattractive work.”
Enhedslisten is no longer the fringe party it used to be. It tripled its number of MPs in the last election and now has 12 seats in parliament and the party offers vital support to the minority coalition government that was grateful for its votes in passing a range of policies, particularly in immigration reform. In the past six months, as the government has struggled, it has again doubled its support among voters.
While the party has announced that it will modernise its programme, which also calls for the dismantling of the police, Clausen’s recent statements have left others in politics alarmed.
“It’s both sick and dangerous to have a party chaired by people who are toying with the thought of abandoning fundamental human rights,” Anders Samuelsen, leader of the libertarian Liberal Alliance, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “What do they imagine would happen when they come and ask for the keys to Maersk, Lego and Novo Nordisk, which are three of the big companies that maintain our welfare state by creating jobs and income for Denmark.”
Pia Kjærsgaard, leader of Dansk Folkeparti, warned of voters flocking to the party without fully understanding its views.
In a press release Kjærsgaard drew parallels between Enhedslisten’s ideal society and the idealism behind the communist revolutionary group Khmer Rouge that carried out genocide in Cambodia in the late 1970s.
“Many frustrated voters are being drawn into the arms of [Enhedslisten MPs] Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen and Per Clausen without them necessarily sharing the dream of a classless utopia or understanding Enhedslisten’s historic background,” Kjærsgaard wrote, adding that communism has claimed about 100 million lives.
“There is a direct line from Pol Pot to Per Clausen. The goal is the same and the ends always justify the means.”
Lead government party, Socialdemokraterne, have also tired of the strong-arm tactics Enhedslisten has used to prevent the coalition from making broad-based deals with the opposition.
Henrik Sass Larsen, the party’s parliamentary group leader, told DR last week that it would rather give up power than let Enhedslisten set the agenda.
“We cannot have a group of people made up of Leninists, Marxists, Trotskyites and Communists running the country,” he said. And after Clausen’s statements yesterday, Benny Engelbrecht, another of the party's leading MPs, took that statement a step further: “If they want to carry out a revolution, they’d need to shoot me first.”