This week’s editorial: Democracy at work in Euro elections – The Post

This week’s editorial: Democracy at work in Euro elections

Can Margrethe Vestager land the top EU spot? (photo: EU)
May 26th, 2019 5:29 am| by Ejvind Sandal

Elections have been called for both the European and Danish Parliaments only a couple of weeks apart – which is great for multi-party democracy.

However, even after 50 years the EU election remains at the back of most Danes’ minds. A recent survey showed the majority of young Danes couldn’t recall the name of even one of the present Danish representatives to the European Parliament.

It has been mainstream amongst Danish parties to express scepticism towards the EU. Only Radikale has constantly expressed support – mainly because it considers the EU the security umbrella needed to avoid civil war and foreign aggression rather than NATO.

Positivism not PC
Most parties don’t considered it politically correct to express positive and constructive attitudes towards the EU unless they are followed by a ‘but’ – if for no better reason than to prevent Dansk Folkeparti controlling the floor. Even Dansk Folkeparti has modified its rhetoric since the Brexit chaos in the UK.

On May 26 Denmark will elect its representatives. It’ll be interesting to see how an apparent set-back for DF will influence the election. Last time Morten Messerschmidt won a landslide victory, but since then his credibility has taken a dive, and this time he’s running for Folketinget and not the European Parliament.

This time, the anti-EU party Folkebevægelsen mod EU is being challenged by Enhedslisten – the socialist left wing – and that might split the votes. The remaining parties should be able to deliver a united Danish backing for the the European Parliament to make the Danish voice heard instead of wasting time and influence on individual crusades.

Jettison the opt-outs
The four Danish op-outs are no longer relevant, but few politicians dare to propose a referendum to make them go away. Not that they cannot be worked around, but they are still a pain in the neck when it comes to fully-fledged political initiatives, which can be advantageous for a small country in a large forum.

Among these is manoeuvering Margrethe Vestager into position to become the chair of the European Commission. Some Danish politicians are eager to prevent her returning to Denmark where her charisma could upset the present political balance.

Big issues communal
The candidates are also infected by negative attitudes. They claim to work for Danish interests, but at the same time want to make sure the EU doesn’t become more federal. This means sacrificing big issues such as climate change, border controls, environmental controls and control of financial institutions – all of which need common regulation.

Let’s hope the Danes make the right choices and elect people who will make the EU strong instead of risking its implosion. Hungary and Poland will have to be called to order, and that needs more than the voice of the speaker in the UK Parliament, who has become world-famous for his calls for order again and again in vain.

Democracy does not come easy, but it is the best we’ve got.

Ejvind Sandal

Copenhagen Post co-owner Ejvind Sandal has never been afraid to voice his opinion. In 1997 he was fired after a ten-year stint as the chief executive of Politiken for daring to suggest the newspaper merged with Jyllands-Posten. He then joined the J-P board in 2001, finally departing in 2003, the very year it merged with Politiken. He is also a former chairman of the football club Brøndby IF (2000-05) where he memorably refused to give Michael Laudrup a new contract prior to his hasty departure. A practising lawyer until 2014, Sandal is also the former chairman of Vestas Wind Systems and Axcel Industriinvestor. He has been the owner of the Copenhagen Post since 2000.