by Anne Rehder
Anne Rehder is International Secretary of Enhedslisten, the Red-Green Alliance in Denmark, which was formed in 1989 by the merger of three left-wing parties and independent socialists. This article was published in Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal
Denmark’s municipal and regional elections on November 19 were a historic success for the Red-Green Alliance (RGA orEnhedslisten). We are now a nationwide party with representatives in all regions and corners of Denmark. With an increase in votes from the previous election in 2009 from 2.3% to 6.9%. The RGA now has seats in 79 municipalities and all regions of Denmark, up from only a presence in 10 municipalities and one representative in the capital region around Copenhagen. The total number of city councillors has gone from 14 to 119 and from one regional elected to 15.
Furthermore the results grants the RGA a seat in the National Organisation of Municipalities, which negotiates the economy of the municipalities with the government and has been tolerating one austerity budget after the other even though it previously had a majority consisting of the Social Democrats (SD) and the Socialist People’s Party (SPP). This gives the RGA a change to break the austerity consensus.
The local election result is the best for the RGA since our founding in 1989. It was far better than our aim in the election campaign, which was to have 100 city councillors and 5-6% of the votes. Actually, it was the best result for the Danish left of the SPP since the post-war municipal elections in 1946.
In Copenhagen the RGA became the second-biggest party with 19.5% of the votes. The SD was the biggest with 27.8%. During the late night negotiations the RGA in Copenhagen won the important seat as mayor for the construction and technical affairs department, which gives us an opportunity to prioritise a green and job creating path for the development of the Danish capital.
In the second and third biggest cities of Denmark, Aarhus and Aalborg, the RGA became third-biggest party after the SD and Liberal parties. But most significantly the result means that we are now represented in all corners of Denmark and are part of the local politics in a majority of the Danish municipalities. This is an important step forward that can hopefully help us to consolidate our success.
The general result was a defeat for the SD and SPP governmental parties. A defeat that clearly reflects the lost confidence many voters have in the two parties since they entered government. They have continued the neoliberal economic policy of the former right-wing government, a policy that their voters opposed.
The SPP lost more than half of its local support, with only 5.6% of the vote compared to 14.5% in the 2009 election. The SD lost votes as well, but kept its position as the largest party in municipal politics. The third party in government, the Social Liberal Party, gained votes from 3.7% to 4.8%. Unfortunately their newly elected members have in several places aligned themselves with the right wing.
The leading right-wing opposition party gained votes and became the party with most mayors, but the success wasn’t as great as they had hoped as the party has been hit by scandals around its leader in recent months.
The Conservative Party suffered is worst election in history, but a better result than predicted by many due to its strong local position. The extreme right-wing party, the Danish People’s Party (DPP), gained 10.1% of the vote. These votes were especially taken from former SD voters disappointed by the austerity policy of the SD as well as former conservative voters. The party might gain a mayor in the Copenhagen suburban municipality of Hvidovre from the SD, but negations are not yet finalised. The DPP has already gained one of the seven majors in Copenhagen. This is the first time the DPP has won a mayorship in Danish politics.
The extreme neoliberal party, Liberal Alliance, gained 2.9% of the votes, which was a clear success from the last election in which the party only gained one municipal seat.
Overall the result was historic for our party and gives us a strengthened position to defend the welfare, health and social security of people, as well as promoting a green policy that creates jobs. Furthermore it’s an opportunity to strengthen our position as one of the leading parties in the workers’ movement in Denmark. It is clear that the voters rewarded the RGA for fighting social cuts and at the same time working pragmaticly to get any possible improvement for ordinary people and environment.