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Dagen Derpå - Updated!

by JakeS Tue Nov 13th, 2007 at 08:08:44 PM EST

Shaky alliances, Atlantic seats and the next half-year of Danish politics - now with party-by-party analysis

I had hoped to title this diary something like 'The Rebuilding Begins' - because Cthulu knows there's plenty to rebuild after six years with a liberalist government rule.

Alas, that was not to be. The results from the Danish elections are now in, and it is pretty clear that the Bad Guys won. The only remaining question is precisely how big they won. The final official result won't be available until tomorrow (actually, given the time of writing, later today for the nitpickers), so until then it's still possible that a single seat or two might get juggled around - and as we shall see below, a single seat or two in the right place would make a world of difference to the survivability of the liberalist government majority.

At the time of writing, VKO (Liberals, Conservatives, Popular Party) alone have 89 seats out of 179 - one seat short of an outright majority, while VKOY (VKO + New Alliance) have 94 seats. ABFØ (Social Democrats, Social Liberals, Popular Socialists, Unity List) have 81 seats. The Christian Democrats did not make it into parliament - in point of fact their election result was only about half of what it was in the last election - I think we can finally say goodbye to that particular noxious gang of fundies.

The astute reader will have noticed that 81 + 94 = 175, which is four seats shy of the 179 seats in the Danish parliament. That's where the Atlantic seats come in. The Danish constitution specifies that Greenland and the Faroes each holds two seats in parliament, and these are usually called the Atlantic seats, because Greenland and the Faroes have their own local parties that have only loose correspondence with the Danish parties. Pre-election guesstimates say that the Atlantic seats will break down 3:1 in favour of the good guys. A quick Google search fails to confirm or deny this, but I think it's safe to assume that it will hold.

This means that as of this writing, VKO seems to have an outright majority, however slim, in the Danish parliament, which means that the current government administration misadministration remains in power (Fogh is already gushing about his 'new mandate' - apparently oblivious to the fact that he's been losing seats for the last two elections. But I digress). They have a six-seat majority if they have the support of New Alliance, and a one-seat majority if they do not.


That being said, the future is not all bleak. If VKO lose just one seat from a defection (possibly by the Faroe Islander) or from having to jettison someone who becomes politically inconvenient (DF in particular has had to exclude MPs [an MP*] in the past because they said things that were so overtly racist that the party leadership could not tolerate it it failed to fly below the radar of our diligent press corps local newsies), their majority will be dependent on New Alliance. And won't that be a lot of fun.

[*A friend kindly informed me that it's only a single MP - Jake]

I may do a diary on the medium-term perspectives for the different parties tomorrow (later today, technically), but suffice is to say that a VKOY coalition will be - ah - unstable. Add to that the fact that the government administration faces three fairly major road bumps in the coming six months:

First there'll come a Union constitution rebranded as a reform treaty. We may or may not get a referendum on it. If we do get a referendum, there's a 50/50 chance of accepting it. If we don't, it's bound to generate resentment (not to mention a certain amount of friction within the majority coalition - DF is in favour of a referendum, the rest of the parties are opposed (actually, I'm not quite sure about Y's position on that, but I think they're opposed)).

Next come the labour market negotiations in spring, which all the tea-leaf readers say have a better than even chance of ending up in a general strike - or the next best thing to one, at least.

Should their majority manage to survive those two, they're going to be faced with a messy, messy recession, in which it will become clear exactly how much of our boom growth was based on private borrowing. All in all, short of a direct Act of God (or Osama bin Laden, if the former is unavailable), they're in for a rather bumpy ride.

And since I am fairly convinced that their pious platitudes about broad-based policy initiatives are precisely that: pious platitudes, the Opposition can wash their hands of the whole mess, lean back and reach for the popcorn.

[Update]

In the comments, DoDo commented on who to term 'winners' and who to term 'losers' in this election, based on the gain/loss of votes relative to the last election. I'm not sure I agree with this approach, however. Rather than make a multi-paragraph comment or a new diary, I'll post my own analysis of the result and what it will mean for short- and medium-term political strategy:

Ø - Unity List: Three things have happened in this election relative to the last one that can explain the change in Unity List representation. First, they lost Pernille Rosenkranz-Teil, a charismatic candidate who drew a lot of votes (in fact, prior to her first election in '01, Ø had four seats, so what we see today can be viewed as simply a return to satus quo ante). Second, Ø decided to run Asmaa Abdol Hamid, a controversial Muslim woman, who either is or closely imitates a fundie. This has likely also cost them votes. Last, part of the reason they got into parliament at all is strategic voting from voters from other left-wing parties to avoid wasting almost two percentage points of left-wing votes.

The fact that Ø made it into parliament means that their strategy is basically unchanged - they have never been about maximizing short-term influence, but about shifting the Overton window, which only requires them to be present in parliament, and is essentially unaffected by who holds the post of PM.

SF - Popular Socialists: Looking solely at number of seats, the Popular Socialists are the clear winners of this election, doubling their representation to become the fourth-biggest party in parliament, and reaching an all-time high for this party. Appearances can be misleading, however - the Social Liberals had similar strong support in '04 and failed to capitalise on it because of the stable VKO majority. Given the expected hardline partisan-ism from the current majority, I am not prepared to call this election a 'win' for the Popular Socialists until and unless they show similar strong results in the next election.

Party leader Villy Søvndal announced long ago his desire to build a Norwegian-style grand coalition on the left, and this election has likely not materially changed this strategy.

S - Social Democrats: The Social Democrats have taken yet another beating this election. This is not readily apparent from the polls, until one considers the fact that they were the largest party - by a fairly comfortable margin - before 2001. Realistically speaking, anything short of toppling the current majority has to be considered a major electoral defeat for S when they are in opposition.

It is hard to say if and how this result will affect the Social Democrats. The best-case scenario is that it inspires them to stop trying to fish for right-wing votes by presenting right-wing-light policies. The worst-case result is a return to the infighting that has periodically plagued the party since Poul Nyrup toppled Sven Auken back in the early 90s. Both of those are certainly possible, as are a host of in-between scenarios.

R - Social Liberals: The Social Liberals are the party DoDo thinks have been the biggest losers in this election, and here as well, I will have to differ. While they have lost half their seats compared to the last election, they are pretty much break-even compared to the '01 election (it is in no small part this roller-coaster ride that makes me so careful about celebrating victory for the Popular Socialists).

The Social Liberals have made two colossal gains over the past six months - with the defection of Naser Khader, the incipient internecine strife in the party was neutered by the co-defection of most of the troublemakers and it provided a completely bona fide opportunity for Marianne Jelved (who had put her foot in her mouth on a regular basis for about a year by that time) to be stepped down from the position of party leader without a major catfight.

DF - Danish Popular Party: DF had a small gain this election and the fact that we retain an outright VKO majority, however slim, can only be said to be a victory for DF.

Strategically, however, DF is in a tougher spot than they've been for any of the past six years. They are not exactly on cordial terms with the conservatives - the two parties disagree about a lot of things and there is no small amount of personal animosity from those conservatives who consider DF a gang of inhumane plebes. But they cannot afford to piss too many conservatives off too badly - if even one conservative MP defects to Y, the VKO majority is gone, and while we'd still be stuck with a right-wing majority, it would substantially change the dynamics of the rightist bloc - and to DF's substantial disfavour.

The same logic applies to exclusions within DF's members of parliament. Historically, DF has had to exclude a "village idiot" (the Danish term for a politician who is so embarrassingly extremist and/or stupid that his party has to jettison him to save face) every once in a while - and during the last two elections some [one] of those village idiots have [has] snug under the party leadership's radar. This means that the party leadership will have to keep a hawk's eye on their MPs even as the main sanction in their housekeeping arsenal has been severely blunted. Not a though calculated to make them sleep soundly.

V - The Liberal Party: Despite losing seats in parliament, the Liberal Party is the only unambiguous winner this time, as Fogh retains the PM's office again, making him the longest-sitting Liberal PM ever, both as measured by number of elections and years in office.

For V the next half-year or so is going to be more or less business as usual. If their plans have been upset in any major way by this election it is not yet apparent. Unfortunately.

C - The Conservative Popular Party: The election result is something of a mixed bag for the Conservatives. On the one hand, they benefit from the absence of Y in the governing bloc because this means that Khader won't steal their thunder. On the other hand, they suffer for the lack of Y in the government bloc because it deprives them of their most natural allies on the right.

The Conservatives can choose one of two strategies: They can either attempt to include Y as a junior member of the right-wing bloc, or they can attempt to freeze them out. The former would offer the immediate advantage of providing tactical fire support for the Conservative tax cut mania, while the latter would have the advantage of reducing Y to complete irrelevance, which would have a very real chance of removing them completely in the next elections. I think they will choose to freeze out Khader and Co., because I think they realise that Y and C compete for the same votes, and there simply aren't enough people in the top ten percent of the income distribution to underpin two long-term viable parties.

Y - New Alliance: The campaign weeks were unkind to New Alliance. Faced with more intense media scrutiny (and newsies who actually asked questions rather than supinely repeating their talking points), the party revealed three fundamental weaknesses:

First, it became clear that Naser Khader is not qualified for party leadership and that the major reason for him to start a new party was to become Calif instead of the Calif (to be fair to Khader, I think that at least part of this desire stemmed from genuine disgust at the cultural relativism that reared its ugly head in the Social Liberal party during the Cartoon Jihad - I think he figured he could make a and improved version of the Social Liberal party - mainly one without Marianne Jelved and Margrete Vestager).

Second, it became clear that Y has made the classic mistake of all new parties: They let a lot of village idiots slip under the radar. Some of the things their candidates said had to be heard to be believed. The stupid! It burns!

Third, it became clear that the party has a built-in conflict of a magnitude not previously realised: Two of the three founding members - Anders Samuelsen and Gitte Seeberg - have widely divergent views of both politics and strategy.

Samuelsen is the ideological father of the party's extreme-right taxation policy, which has gathered it a number of disenchanted Conservatives and disgruntled Liberals, not to mention substantial financial donations from various rich old white men who stood to gain from Reaganite/Bushist tax cuts. Seeberg, on the other hand, co-founded the party almost solely to create a party that would oppose DF without also opposing Fogh. This approach has gathered the support of other disenchanted conservatives and represents the only real reason why Y is viewed as a centre-right rather than extreme-right party.

Not only is this a major source of political friction, it has direct implications for strategy: The Anders Samuelsen wing of the party wants to support Fogh unconditionally and work in tandem with C to secure tax cuts for the rich, while the Gitte Seeberg wing wants the party to give Fogh an ultimatum: Cut back on the DF-inspired crap or cut back on being PM.

Unless one of those wings is purged ruthlessly (and soon), this has all the makings of a first-class disaster for the party: An infighting that will make the Regicide in the Social Democrats (the toppling of Auken by Nyrup which started the Social Democratic infighting) look like a polite exchange of opinion over a pint at the local pub. If one wing does get purged, my bet would be on the Seeberg wing. Which would make Y effectively a junior partner of the Conservatives. Either way, I don't see a long-term future for this party.

- Jake

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She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 01:59:40 AM EST

PartiesLeadersVotes%Seats+/-
Denmark
Liberals (Venstre) (V)Anders Fogh Rasmussen908,88226.3%46-6
Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterne) (A)Helle Thorning-Schmidt881,86925.5%45-2
Danish People's Party (Dansk Folkeparti) (O)Pia Kjærsgaard478,63813.8%25+1
Socialist People's Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti) (F)Villy Søvndal451,31413.0%23+12
Conservative People's Party (Det Konservative Folkeparti) (C)Bendt Bendtsen359,23810.4%18 ±0
Social Liberal Party (Det Radikale Venstre) (B)Margrethe Vestager177,2695.1%9-8
New Alliance (Ny Alliance) (Y)Naser Khader96,8562.8%5+5
Image:dk-el-logo.pngRed-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) (Ø)Collective leadership74,6712.2%4-2
Christian Democrats (Kristendemokraterne) (K)Bodil Kornbek30,1100.9%0±0
Subtotal3,458,847100.0%175--
Faroe Islands
People's Party (Fólkaflokkurin) (A)Anfinn Kallsberg4,72620.50-3.6 %
Union Party (Sambandsflokkurin) (B)Kaj Leo Johannesen5,41323.51+2.1 %
Social Democratic Party (Javnaðarflokkurin) (C)Jóannes Eidesgaard4,70220.40-1.8 %
Self-Government Party (Sjálvstýrisflokkurin) (D)Kári P. Højgaard7973.50+1.1 %
Republican Party (Tjóðveldisflokkurin) (E)Høgni Hoydal5,94925.41±0
Centre Party (Miðflokkurin) (H)Álvur Kirke1,5776.80+3.5 %
Subtotal2
Greenland
Forward (Siumut)Hans Enoksen
Inuit Community (Inuit Ataqatigiit)Josef Motzfeldt
Democrats (Demokraatit)Per Berthelsen
Feeling of Community (Atassut)Finn Karlsen
Subtotal2
Total179


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 03:35:45 AM EST
Source is Wikipedia. What they didn't give weas percentage changes:

V -2.7%
A -0.4%
O +0.6%
F +7.0% (the big winners)
C +0.1%
B -4.1% (the big losers)
Y +2.8% (newcomers)
Ø -1.2%
K -0.8%

Blocs:

VCKOY: +/-0
ABFØ: +1.3%

(Where the now missing Minority Party and Centre Democrats make up the difference)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 03:54:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For clarity, re JakeS: above I am considering winners of voters, JakeS is considering winners of power & influence.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 04:46:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True. But the numbers are misleading at least w.r.t. R - they have had something of a roller-coaster ride over the last six years - if they stabilize at their current votes (which are about the same as their pre-'04 votes), it can hardly be called a long-term defeat. Same story with SF: Until and unless I see a repeat performance, I will argue that it is too early to conclude that this is anything but a protest vote. Of course SF is very much a party for the young and pissed-off, so a protest vote may be more permanent here than with most other parties.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 05:14:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Protest vote says something, too. In this case, it might tell something to the SocDems.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 05:17:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Since then, the Greenland results have been uploaded, too: one seat each for Forward (soc-dem) and Inuit Community, so the 3:1 Atlantic ratio JakeS predicted held up. Among these, the only (but as it turns out, decisive) change is the replacement of a second independentist Faroer MP with a liberal-conservative one.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 03:58:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So a VKO government is dependent on the vote of a Faroe islander. Could this be expected to translate into some pork for the Faroes?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 08:12:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's actually shown quite a lot of restraint in that department. Traditionally pork to Faroes and Greenland has been limited to covering their backsides in the event of unexpected (or semi-unexpected) losses on stuff that blows up in their faces (unkind commenters might argue that they get so much pork in the regular finance bills that padding them gratuitously wouldn't be worth risking the resulting badwill - I think that's both unkind and mostly wrong, but the case can be made).

What we almost certainly do get, however, is a less stable coalition. Which I won't exactly mourn.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 06:21:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is so great to be around here in ET...

context.... ina way I do nto expect anywhere else...even with the "bad guys" stuff...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 10:44:14 AM EST
Am I mistaken, or was Bodil Kornbek a side 9 pigen a few week's back in Ekstra Bladet?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 09:53:30 PM EST
The fact that Ø made it into parliament means that their strategy is basically unchanged - they have never been about maximizing short-term influence, but about shifting the Overton window, which only requires them to be present in parliament, and is essentially unaffected by who holds the post of PM.
And, to be honest, that is a valuable role to play.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 05:01:23 AM EST
Never claimed anything else. In fact it would have been a fairly major disaster if they had not made it to parliament, and not just for the seats lost.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 05:08:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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