You’re Still Here: Platitudes and cheap xenophobia on the election posters

The election posters are everywhere. Slogans and logos are plastered where there used to be adverts for liquorice and new breasts.

It might be obvious, but it’s probably the most sensible slogan so far
It might be obvious, but it’s probably the most sensible slogan so far


Lost in translation?
I only hold one passport and it is not Danish. I have no say, so it is not my vote they are courting. Yet, I am like a bunny trapped in the headlights when I see them. What are they discussing? What sort of futures do they imagine for themselves in this country where I live?

The first set of election posters were ages ago. They were from the Dansk Folkeparti and just carried the message “A Sense of Security and Trust” with no suggestions or policies – only the message that it was possible. The posters reminded me of an anthology of poetry called ‘The Sense of Security Addicts’ by Vita Andersen, but did not call much else to mind. Maybe you had to be Danish.

Satire made it worth it
The next election poster out was Socialdemokraterne’s. “When you come to Denmark, you have to work,” it read, and my heart sank. Well, yes. Or study. Or raise your family. Or a range of options that are available, depending on your residency permit. It was not so much that I disagree with the principle that an economy (or indeed, a society), works best when the majority of work-aged people are in employment. I was more disappointed with the sub-text that we immigrants have been getting a free ride until now.

Though maybe it was worth it for the remixes. The Swedish Vänsterparti sent up the campaign with “When you come to Malmö, you are welcome”, and the Danish Enhedslisten aimed their message at tax-avoiding multinational companies with “When you come to Denmark, you have to pay tax.”

The rest of Socialdemokraterne’s posters have been about the progress they feel they have made in the last few years and would like to continue. But not much about how.

Konservative went all in with “STOP NAZI-ISLAMISM”, in which two wildly distinct groups were conflated – to much criticism. This poster is part of a series of things Konservative would like to stop along with high taxes and thieves. These have also been thoroughly remixed.

Along with the obvious “STOP, HAMMER TIME”, there have been some very creative alternative slogans. You can even make your own at

A fobbed-off electorate
Perversely, the only election poster I have noticed that contained an old school political message was not from a political party at all. Dansk Industri has a poster of a Danish flag and an invitation to discuss the future nature of the welfare state.

This is indicative of a deeper issue with politics here. That it is up to a business network to debate the nature of wealth distribution, whilst parties of all political persuasions massage feelings of suspicion and self-righteousness.

It is hard to see how it happened. Danish people as a group are reasonably politically engaged and ready to debate. Yet, they are being fobbed off with platitudes and cheap xenophobia at election time. Don’t the spin doctors trust them?