Danish Election: Red/Green Alliance gets Best Ever Vote

By Mick Woods

In the general election in Denmark of September 15, Enhedslisten, (Unity List) better known outside Denmark as the Red-Green Alliance (RGA) won 6.7 percent of the votes and now holds twelve seats in the 179-seat Danish parliament. This was the best result for the RGA in its 22-year existence and the 17 years it has had Parliamentary representation. This is an important result for a party, which describes itself as Marxist and Revolutionary, although there is a wide coalition of political traditions within the RGA’s broad anti-capitalist framework.

The alliance was initially formed from an initiative taken by the Danish Communist Party (DKP), Left Socialists (VS) and the Socialist Workers Party (SAP-USFI) in the late 1980’s when the left was no longer able to get elected and a new initiative was necessary. Previously the DKP and VS had some Parliamentary representation.

In 1989, the RGA received 1.7 percent of the vote and failed to win representation, as two percent is required. Following some splits in the DKP and VS’s decision to dissolve itself the vast majority of RGA members are not former members of the founding parties; although SAP still exists as does a network of DKP members active in the RGA. After the formation of the RGA the Communist Workers Party (KAP) a former Maoist party joined in the early 1990s and completely dissolved itself; and the International Socialists (IST tendency) joined in 2003. Separate papers and magazines are still published by the DKP, SAP, International Socialists and by former VS members.

In 1994, RGA received 3.1 percent of the vote and six members of Parliament, and this remained essentially the position until recently, reflecting the relatively weak level of class struggle in Denmark. Now membership of RGA has risen from a thousand in 1989 to around 7,500 members, many who have joined in recent years. In addition the Socialist Youth Front, which supports RGA but is autonomous has 1,400 members with about half holding joint membership.

The banking crisis of 2008 which broke the back of the hitherto expanding Danish economy is a key cause of the radicalization, with social gains under attack from a government alliance of neo-cons, conservatives and right-wing populists. Billions of kroner were given to the corporations and the rich in tax cuts; and anger at Danish involvement in three wars helped to build RGA influence.

The 2011 election saw the trade unions call for a vote for either the Social Democrats (SD), right wing “reformists,” the Socialist People’s Party (SF), left reformists or the RGA. This boost, allied to the performance of the RGA spokeswoman in TV debates, boosted the vote.

The increased RGAs vote was mainly achieved however at the expense of the SD and SF. In order to reach a majority of 50 percent in Parliament the SD and SF leadership courted the Radical Party, which is a social liberal party with a similar economic policy to the outgoing government. The shameful result was a backtracking by the SF in particular and the adoption of much of the Radicals economic policy. Trade unions are outraged and opinion polls currently put RGA even stronger and level with the SF.

RGA has an enormous potential to grow and increase the impact of a socialist message. Seven RGA demands have been made of the new government led by Social Democrat, Helle Thorning Schmidt. If the SD/SF/Radical budget cannot be supported however then the government will fall and polls suggest an overwhelming victory for the right. The balance of seeking to prevent the right-wing and, in some cases, racist parties back in government and campaigning hard for a people’s budget is new and demanding territory for the RGA. To date the leadership has done well in attacking the SD/SF back-pedaling and calling for re-negotiation of the political basis of the new government. Popular pressure on the government from trade unions, students, apprentices and the unemployed is essential. The Occupy Copenhagen and Occupy Aarhus protests and others in Denmark demonstrate the solidarity with the international crisis that is capitalism. These are exciting, important moments and challenges for the RGA

Mick Woods lives in Odder, Denmark and is an activist in SAP and RGA.

—October 23, 2011