Feisty Enhedslisten promises to push government to the left

The S-R-SF coalition shouldn’t take support of far left for granted, the party warns

The rhetoric was hot and the mood sharp at Enhedslisten’s (EL) annual convention, held last weekend at Korsgadehallen in Nørrebro.

Rumours out of Christiansborg indicated that EL was threatening to scupper the government's proposed budget, even if it meant a dissolution of the current S-R-SF government that EL supports.

Before the meeting got underway, MP Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil of Socialdemokraterne (and a former EL member) accused her old party of being too vague when it comes to answers aimed at solving Denmark’s financial challenges.

“Enhedslisten points too many fingers and has too few answers," Rosenkrantz-Theil told Berlingske newspaper. “Every time we discuss how to get out of the crisis, their only answer is that the rich should pay more, but there are simply not enough rich people in Denmark to fix all of the problems.”

Rosenkrantz-Theil says EL is merely fishing for votes when they constantly preach that the rich should pay more.

“They are starting to become more left-wing populist than Pia Kjaersgaard is right-wing populist, and that is highly regrettable,” she said.

EL's meeting started off with what seemed to be a setback for party spokesperson Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen. She and the executive board had called for scrapping the party’s entire platform and starting from scratch. The delegates at the convention, however, rejected the board’s proposal to create an entirely new platform and decided instead to keep and adjust the one currently in place.

Schmidt-Nielsen denied that the delegate’s decision was a setback.

“The important thing is that we have started a process where a new programme can be created by modernising the old," she told Berlingske. “I have previously said that is what we should do, and I am glad the delegates agreed.”

The party's executive council had wanted to draft a new platform to be discussed at the party’s next annual meeting and then be voted on in 2014. Critics feared a dilution of the party’s socialist principals and the board’s proposal was shot down by a vote of 202 to 151.

One thing the party’s newly-elected leadership did agree on was that they intended to continue to hold PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne) and her cabinet’s feet to the fire.

Several speakers criticised the government for its austerity measures and continued reduction of social programmes. Many EL members continued to question the budget that is scheduled to be voted on in the autumn.

“I cannot imagine us voting for a budget where those needing the most help pay a huge cost in reduced services," Jacob Lindblom, one of the party’s new leaders, told Politiken newspaper.

Speaking about the rumours that Enhedslisten would attempt to break up the coalition government and force an election, Lindblom said: "We would never overturn a red government, but it has to be red in action, not just in name. They should not take us for granted."

Former MP Line Barfod, who received the third-highest amount of votes of the 25 members on the executive committee, was also critical of the government.

"There is no doubt that we do not support increasing inequality in Denmark or cutting aid to the sick and the disabled,” she told Politiken.

Barfod said that EL would support Thorning-Schmidt’s government if it implemented the policies that they were elected to put in place.

EL’s financial spokesperson, Frank Aaen, said that the party is looking to increase the taxes on profits homeowners earn when they sell their house.

“People in some areas of the country have earned more money while they were asleep than while they were at work, just because they owned a house in an area where values increased,” Aaen told Berlingske. “We want to tax those increases when a home is sold.” The tax would be calculated on the selling price of the house, minus the purchase price and would exclude any improvements that were made on the property.

Socialistisk Folkeparti's tax spokesman, Jonas Dahl, warned that introducing such a tax in today’s uncertain housing market might be a risky move.

“The challenge in the housing market today is that there are many who can not sell their homes, and many who are technically insolvent," Dahl told Berlingske. “One should think very carefully before introducing such a tax.”

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