This column originally ran in the Danish tabloid BT on May 8, 2019. The next installment will run on May 21, 2019.
As a resident of Copenhagen Northwest, I hear a lot about Enhedslisten. In fact, there are some people in my neighbourhood that would like me to hear only about Enhedslisten, since during the last election local hooligans ripped down all of the election signs for all the conservative parties and the Social Democrats, leaving just SF and Enhedslisten posters dangling from telephone poles and fluttering in the wind on the S-train platforms.
But I had never seriously looked into Enhedslisten before, despite my closest Danish friend having voted for them for years.
Weren’t they the former communists who didn’t believe in private property? Why would anyone who owned anything vote for them? And since I don’t own a house and don’t own a car, would I get half of somebody else’s house and half of somebody else’s car if Enhedslisten came into power?
I was disappointed to learn that Enhedslisten had given up the “abolishing private property” thing a few years ago. That said, according to the party principles I read online last week, they are still “against kapitalism” and capitalism and private property tend to go hand in hand.
The party principles were interesting reading. I learned that Enhedslisten is “dedicated to policies that advance the working class.”
That seemed a bit ironic, since a fair number of Enhedslisten supporters don’t work very much or don’t work at all. One survey found Enhedslisten was by far the most popular party among people with income of less than DK100,000 per year. (A Danish supermarket cashier makes about DK250,000 per year.)
Perhaps this is why their supporters have the time to go about tearing down posters. It’s hard to imagine a supporter of Venstre, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s business-oriented party, taking time to tear down an Enhedslisten poster. Too busy putting gas in their Mercedes sedans and picking up a good red wine to go with dinner.
‘No’ to the monarchy, ‘no’ to the EU
Whether or not their voters have actual jobs, Enhedlisten says in its principles that everyone has a “right to a job.” But it also wants to sharply downsize the Danish military and dethrone the Royal Family, which would seem likely to increase unemployment among musclemen from Jylland plus gown designers and fancy hat makers.
Reading the party principles I also learned that Enhedslisten is against the EU, which it calls a “tool for the rich capitalist lands’ dominance over the rest of the Earth.”
That surprised me, because in my experience the EU is popular in Denmark, particularly among the young people who tend to be Enhedlisten voters.
‘A good stand for equality’
It all seemed rather drastic and dogmatic to me. The more I read, the more Enhedslisten seemed less like a party anybody really wanted in power and more of a middle-finger vote towards parents, bosses, people with fun jobs at the EU in Belgium and anybody who owns a house or a car.
So I asked my close Danish friend, a responsible adult with a government job that is not in Belgium, why she votes Enhedslisten.
“I think they make a good stand for equality, and that helps balance out some of the other parties,” she said. “And they prioritize the environment.”
The Red-Green party
I don’t doubt Enhedlisten’s commitment to the environment, since the original idea behind the party’s founding was to combine communist and environmental parties; its English name is still the Red-Green Alliance.
But like many climate campaigners, Enhedslisten seems to be using concern about the environment as a guise to implement the same income redistribution policies they’ve been pushing for decades. Using the green to impose the red, so to speak.
Being old enough to have actually spent time in the previous generation of “red” countries in Europe, I know that they were not as ideal as the ideology had promised.
The Red-Green party
While I certainly support sustainability and have a healthy respect for social welfare, Enhedslisten seems to be more about dogma and protest than actually getting stuff done.
My friend understood my point of view. “I don’t think you should vote for Enhedslisten,” she told me. “You’re too practical.”
So the search for the party that will receive my first vote for the Folketing continues.
Next week: I look at the little parties, from Radikale Venstre to Liberal Alliance to SF to Ny Borgerlig, to see if I can find one that is right for me.
Photo credit: Kay Xander Mellish2019