Denmark's election a litmus test for Europe's far-right politics
Denmark's election Thursday is the first national poll in northern Europe to gauge appeal for radical politics since the Norway killings carried out by far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik.
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Radicals here regularly call Islam “medieval,” a “mafia,” a disease, or akin to Nazism. Jussi Hallo-Aho, the True Finns’ No. 2, called Islam a religion of pedophilia. The effect contributes to a desensitization to invective that might be branded hate speech in the United States. Even in England, disparaging remarks about Muslims have “passed the dinner-table test,” as Baroness Warsi, a minister in the Tory coalition, put it last spring.Skip to next paragraph
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In a 2011 study, “Annoying Differences,” Mr. Hervik details three media campaigns in Denmark made up of thousands of articles, editorials, and prime-time TV news segments that have painted Islam and Muslims in a poor light. Among other things, the study says that the 2006 Danish cartoons insulting the prophet Muhammad, the ones that inflamed the Islamic world, were hardly a matter of free speech: They were part of a systematic anti-Islam editorial campaign by the Jyllands-Posten daily that dated to Rasmussen’s “culture war.”
The DPP and an obliging media have helped make Denmark the hub of the Scandinavian radical right. “Since 2000, the DPP has become one of the most successful right-wing parties in Western Europe,” says Susi Meret, an expert at Aalburg University in Arhus. “Wilders is there all the time.”
For European radicals, the DPP is a giant oak under which to gather and learn, a model of organization and discipline. “The Sweden Democrats copied their program wholesale,” says Tufts University political scientist David Art, author of “Inside the Radical Right.”
Feeling no responsibility for Breivik
Breivik’s manifesto quotes Norwegian blogger “Fjordman,” who calls the DPP the only party with “real spine.” The DPP’s winning formula, imitated by Wilders and others, is to align itself with the main Danish party, share power and press for results, but avoid any responsibility to govern. “They are the prototype,” says Mr. Art. “They get credit for leading but don’t suffer the responsibility of incumbency.”
Wilders’s Dutch Freedom Party operates the same way. The formula “gives them the freedom to do and say many things they would not otherwise be able to say or do, things that used to be taboo, in terms of decency,” says Ms. Meret.