Dansk Folkeparti condemned for rejecting members without Danish passports

Excluding foreigners who have the right to vote in municipal and regional elections harms Danish democracy and integration process, say critics

A Berlingske story about a Danish-Norwegian man has highlighted how non-Danish citizens cannot become members of Dansk Folkeparti (DF).

Born in Copenhagen, Eigil Solberg (pseudonym) has a Danish mother and a Norwegian father. He has a Norwegian passport, but this did not stop him from joining the Danish Army, where he was a member of the Royal Guard, fought in Lebanon as a Danish representative of the UN and was stationed at the Danish Embassy in the US. 

However, when he applied to join DF, he was rejected because he does not have a Danish passport.

Only Danes are allowed in
Despite the fact that they have the right to vote in Danish municipal and regional elections, DF bans approximately 300,000 non passport holders from joining its ranks.

"We hold a clear position that if someone wants to be a member of Dansk Folkeparti, he has to be a Danish citizen," DF MP Peter Skaarup told Berlingske.

"Only then has a person the full package of rights as a Dane, including the right to vote in general elections." 

Other parties are more open
None of the other political parties in Folketinget (the Danish parliament) require their members to be Danish citizens. 

Venstre, for instance, would welcome "anyone who would support the party's objectives and policies".  

Konservative is open to "everyone who would adhere to the party's program", while the Liberal Alliance aims "to bring together all who endorse, support and promote the party's politics".

A form of discrimination
Experts believe democracy in Denmark could be adversely affected if all parliamentary parties followed DF's example.

"If all parties did so, they would effectively exclude a very, very large part of the country from getting involved in politics – both in terms of running for elections or choosing who will stand as a candidate," Kasper Møller Hansen, a professor of political science at the University of Copenhagen, told Berlingske.

"There wouldn't be equality between voters and those who can select candidates."

According to Rune Stubager, a professor of political science at Aarhus University, DF helps to counteract foreigners integrating into Danish society.

"Although it is perfectly legal, it is a form of discrimination in the sense that some people cannot join and are thus in principle excluded from a part of democracy," Stubager told Berlingske.

There is a way
Skaarup suggests two options for people who would like to join DF.

"One is to apply for citizenship, get it and then join Dansk Folkeparti. The other is to apply for an exemption and the party would then consider whether we want him as a member."