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If you’re visiting Danmark these days, you’ll probably notice two things: 1. Vejret er dejligt [vare-eth ar die-leet] (the weather is nice/lovely). 2. Gaderne er fulde af valgplakater. (The streets are full of election posters.)
On May 27th, plakatophængerne (the poster ”hangers”) hurried to put up huge photos of politikere (politicians) all over the country. Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish statsminister (prime minister), had just announced the date for valget [valyeth] (the election): 18. juni. What’s it all about?
• in Denmark, each regering (government) has a period of 4 years. Before that time is up, the PM has to udskrive valg (call an election).
• in folketingsvalget (the general election), 179 people are elected to occupy the seats at Folketinget (the Danish Parliament) in Copenhagen
• stemmerne (the votes) decide how much influence the various partier (parties) will get, and who will be the next statsminister
Traditionally, there are two political blokke (”blocks”) in Denmark – rød blok (red block) is ”left wing” (a bit more socialist), while blå blok (blue block) is ”right wing” (a bit more conservative or liberal). The current ”red” PM (from the party Socialdemokraterne) is challenged by the ”blue” Lars Løkke (from the party Venstre). (Løkke used to be PM, but he’s also been accused of spending his party’s money to buy things for himself, so he’s a bit controversial!)
On a Danish stemmeseddel (ballot paper), each party has its own letter code. Here are the Danish parties, from venstre (left) to højre (right):
RØD BLOK: Enhedslisten (The Unity List; letter code Ø), SF = Socialistisk Folkeparti (Socialistic Popular Party; F), Socialdemokraterne (The Social Democrats; A), Det Radikale Venstre (The Radical Left; B) – BLÅ BLOK: Liberal Alliance (Liberal Alliance; I), Venstre (Left; V), Det Konservative Folkeparti (The Conservative Popular Party; C), Dansk Folkeparti (Danish Popular Party; O).
I won’t bother you with all the details. 🙂 It must suffice to say that Danish elections have often been a battle between Socialdemokraterne (the traditional party for workers) and Venstre (the traditional party for farmers – confusing that a ”right wing” party is called Left, don’t you think?)
Whether or not you’ve watched the Danish tv serial Borgen (”The Fortress”) – which is broadcast in the UK – you probably know that politikere love talking… The ”talk of the town” in Denmark is often skat (taxes), indvandring (immigration) and how (not) to help de arbejdsløse (the unemployed). Dansk Folkeparti has become popular among Danes who want less immigration. (Unfortunately, the debate has often been very ugly!)
This year’s valg is quite exciting, as there is a brand new party on board – Alternativet (The Alternative; letter code Å). I talked to Peter Christensen, who’s a party member:
What is Alternativet?
Alternativet is a political movement where everything comes nedefra (from the bottom). We forge our ideas and positions at politiske laboratorier (political labs) where all kinds of people are invited to participate, all over the country. It’s a bit like open-source software.
Is it a ”left wing” or a ”right wing” party?
We don’t want to place ourselves in any ”block”. We’re against that kind of static thinking. Alternativet is a dynamic party. We’ll cooperate with those people who support our ideas.
What does Alternativet want?
Our three main goals are ecological, social and economic bæredygtighed (sustainability).