The Danish right-wing government wants crimes committed in poor housing areas, which the government contemptuously denotes as "ghettos", to be punished twice as hard as elsewhere. The proposal is part of a battery of actions that Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen presented last Thursday.
At the same time, Denmark is on the verge of a major labour conflict. In order to protect the government's right-wing policy, employers in state and local government have taken an extremely provocative attitude in ongoing negotiations on wages and conditions. They flatly say no to the public sector unions demands for increased real wages (mostly for the low paid), a reduced pay gap between men and women, and better working conditions. At the moment the unions are preparing for strikes.
Social Democracy supports government
The government, with the agreement of, among others, the social democrats, claims that it is refugees and immigrants that mean Denmark cannot afford welfare and better terms for public employees.
But as the left-wing Red-Green Alliance (Unity List) says, Denmark is richer than ever: GDP has grown by ten per cent since 2009, employment is at a record high and big companies are overflowing with cash. But an increasing proportion of Denmark’s growing prosperity goes to the wealthiest, and especially the richest one percent. The wealthy are also those who benefit most from the government's tax cuts.
The government's response to the strong and increasing dissatisfaction with growing inequality is to step up the racist policies with new attacks on refugees and those facing the worst.
In addition to special penalties, the government wants the police to carry out at least 25 major raids and cleansing actions in these vulnerable areas in 2018 and 2019. Further, new restrictions on asylum and refugee rights are expected.
The Danish Social Democrats have supported the establishment of special ‘punishment zones’, which is a racist violation of legal rights, It sends a warning signal as to how far the right is prepared to go in its attacks on refugees and the most deprived people. Denmark also gives a picture of how far social democracy, in crises, can travel along this road.
Attacks on refugees
In its eagerness to win back voters from the traditional right-wing parties and the racist Danish People's Party (DF), Danish social democracy calls for a complete stop to all refugees, that the right to asylum is abolished and that no-one any longer can "spontaneously" seek asylum at the country's border. Instead, the social democrats want asylum seekers to be sent to special camps in North Africa. In particular, the party is targeting those referred to as "non-western refugees".
Recently, the social democrats also cooperated with the racist Danish People's Party and demanded that aid to Iraq be cut because the Baghdad government opposed the expulsion of Iraqi refugees from Denmark. Furthermore, the Danish Social Democratic party wants to end the reuniting of refugee families in poor housing areas.
As the only true opposition party against the government, the social democrats and the Danish People's Party, the Red-Green Alliance (Unity List) has great opportunities to grow in an increasingly polarised Denmark. But it requires the party to sharpen its socialist and campaign profile.