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Susi Meret: Positionspapier

Entgrenzter Rechtsextremismus? Tagungsbericht Tagungsbericht 9. Februar 2015 Tagungsbericht 10. Februar 2015 Eröffnungsreden Panel der Fachtagung Panel 1 Panel 2 Panel 3 Panel 4 Panel 5 Weltcafè Audiodokumentation Bayern 2: Rechtsextremismus in Europa Kontakt und Veranstalter

Susi Meret: Positionspapier

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Positionspapier zum Vertiefungsangebot "Die rechtspopulistische Offensive" im Rahmen der Fachtagung "Entgrenzter Rechtsextremismus? Internationale Perspektiven und Gegenstrategien" der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung in München, 09.-10.02.2015.

The Danish People’s Party is today among the most successful populist right wing party in Europe. The party was launched in 1995 by former party leader Pia Kjaersgaard (party leader 1995-2012). The DF beginnings were particularly difficult; media were almost unanimous in predicting the DF a short life. 20 years after it is clear this party has established and consolidated itself in the Danish political system and parliamentary life. The party electoral breakthrough came at the 1998 election, where the DF was got 7 pct. of the votes and 13 seats in parliament. This gave the DF a solid parliamentary representation. Later elections confirmed the capacity of the DF to consolidate its support and to avoid declines that could have been fatal for the party.

Since its formation, the DF worked consequently to get support and political influence. Already in 1996, the parties’ ‘declaration of intents’ states that goals are: ‘to give the Danish voters a real alternative to the politics pursued by the existing political parties’ but also that such an alternative ‘can play an active role in the parliamentary life’ reaching ‘political results through collaboration with other parties [because] a political party must never be a goal in itself. (…) The Danish People’s Party therefore sees as its goal to realize as much of the party’s politics as possible’ (Dansk Folkeparti 1996).

Order and compliance within the party’s own ranks was from start part of the parties’ ‘normalization’ process, bringing the DF from the margins to the mainstream in Danish politics. A rigid internal party discipline and power centralization were applied from start. It is worth noticing how this party, often indulging in self-portrays of being ‘the loudspeaker of the little-man’, being the politically integral movement, working against the establishment and elites in reality is among the most modern, well-organized, top-centralized and professionally administrated and marketed political organizations in today’s Denmark.

The emergence of right wing populism in Denmark needs to be read in relation to both the Danish context and history and the social and opportunities that opened up to the successful mobilization against migration and migrants, against EU and against the establishment. In the case of Denmark, the conditions for a the populist radical right and anti-immigration mobilization built upon a narrowly defined understanding of the concept, idea of nation, national belonging and identity having historical legacies in the 19th century, and intensified by economic downturns and by the difficulties of mainstream parties to deal with an increasing diverse society. It is within the inter-relationship between the welfare state, its role and future developments, the nation state and the increasing diverse society creating serious difficulties of accommodation in the Danish and Scandinavian context. It is within this complex but unambiguous setting that populism ought to be understood and compared to how this developed and consolidated in other countries (Vad Jønsson & Petersen 2010).

Particularly, the relationship between immigration and Danish welfare state created a special ‘playground’ in Danish/Nordic politics, well exploited by populists, xenophobes and right wing extremists. Among the questions and conventional discourses creating a fertile soil not only debates and positions about social cohesion being jeopardized by increasing ethnic, racial diversity, but also a focus on the culturalization of politics, where cultures become central players in creating incompatibilities and unbridgeable differences. What took place can perhaps be explained as a process of increasing ‘culturalization’ of the welfare debate and hostile-integration policy discourse. These have roots longer back in time and link to the historical development of the Danish national state and the exclusionary basis of the ideal of national welfare it originally founded upon.

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