Think-tank: incapable government a ‘myth’

Another report shows the government is doing a far better job than its media image suggests

Roskilde magic was strong with this one
June 19th, 2012 4:03 pm| by admin
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Since winning last September's election, the government has not had an easy time keeping the electorate on its side. In fact, support for the leading coalition party, Socialdemokraterne, has dwindled to a historically low16 percent, down from 25 percent at the election.

Many have blamed the government’s slipping popularity on its inability to push through a number of key policies, including a congestion charge in Copenhagen. As a result it was quickly branded the “government of broken-promises”.

But a study by the think-tank Mandag Morgen has shown that the coalition government has only abandoned a small portion of its election promises, leading it to argue that the reputation is a myth.

Mandag Morgen found that out of 315 pre-election policy proposals made by Socialdemokraterne and Socialistisk Folkeparti (SF), who were campaigning together, in the run up to the election, 270 were added to the government's agenda after the formation of the coalition with the centrist Radikale party.

Of the 270 remaining policies, 70 have been passed into law, 148 are being negotiated, while 52 have yet to be addressed. Only 45, or 14 percent, have been abandoned.

Despite this, the opposition and media have presented the government as incapable, weak and unable to live up to its promises. The words “broken promise” have appeared in over 1,200 different articles, comments and editorials over the past eight months.

The migration away from the centre-left government parties could be explained by the image the media has presented. According to a Rambøll/Analyse Danmark/Jyllands-Posten poll, 71 percent of voters who supported  the parties that formed the government (Socialdemokraterne, SF and Radikale) along with far-left support party Enhedslisten, do not think the government fought for the politics they expected them to before the election.

Mandag Morgen explained that the problem the government faces is that the former Venstre-Konservative coalition was better able to find consensus on policy than the current three-party coalition.

“The broken promises debate completely overlooks the fact that the conditions in parliament for the new government are fundamentally different, and as a minority government comprised of three parties it is by definition not able to fulfil the wishes of all three parties.”

The think-tank identified a range of policies that the government has introduced or found financing for, including a fund for victims of violent crime, as well as 2.6 billion kroner worth investment to improve public transport.

“None of these cases raised the same intense level of coverage as the broken promises debate," Mandag Morgen wrote.

The government has already bemoaned its inability to better sell itself to voters, a fact that Sigge Winther Nielsen, of the University of Copenhagen, also pointed out to Mandag Morgen.

“It’s thought-provoking that Mandag Morgen has presented these facts and not the government parties who have not yet explained that they have managed to pass many of their policy proposals that were made before the election,” Nielsen said. “The two parties [Socialdemokraterne and SF] have not been good at selling their victories but have had to play down the ‘broken-promises’ reputation instead. That’s why it has been allowed to settle in the population that they are government of broken promises.”

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