The Danish People's Party (DPP) (Danish: Dansk Folkeparti, DF) is a nativist and right-wing populist political party in Denmark. The party was founded in 1995 by Pia Kjærsgaard, who was the leader of the party until 2012, when she passed the leadership on to Kristian Thulesen Dahl. The DPP lent its support to the Liberal-Conservative government that ruled from the general election of 2001 until the 2011 election defeat. While not part of the cabinet, DPP cooperated closely with the governing coalition on most issues and received support for key political stances in return, to the point that the government was commonly referred to as the "VKO-government" (O being DPP's election symbol). It also provided parliamentary support to Lars Løkke Rasmussen's cabinets from 2016 to 2019, again without participating in it.
The DPP's stated goals are to protect the freedom and cultural heritage of the Danish people, including the family, the Monarchy and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark, to enforce a strict rule of law, to work against Denmark becoming a multi-cultural society by limiting immigration and promoting cultural assimilation of admitted immigrants, to maintain a strong welfare system for those in need, and to promote entrepreneurship and economic growth by strengthening education and encouraging people to work, to protect the environment and natural resources, and to protect Danish sovereignty against the European Union. In comparison to its predecessor, the Progress Party, the DPP focuses more on immigration, while at the same time being more pragmatic on other topics. While overall considered part of the radical right, its policies on most economic issues would rather place the party in the centre to centre-left. The party's current leader, Kristian Thulesen Dahl, once declared DPP an anti-Muslim party.
In 2014 the party won the European Parliament election in Denmark by a wide margin, securing 27% of the vote. After the election, it joined the European Conservatives and Reformists group alongside parties such as the United Kingdom's Conservative Party and Poland's Law and Justice. The DPP received 21% of the vote in the 2015 general election, becoming the second largest party in Denmark for the first time amid a plurality for the centre-right parties.
The party's popularity has grown since its inception, taking 25 seats in the 179-member Folketing in the 2007 parliamentary election (13.8% of the vote, remaining the third largest party in Denmark). In the 2011 parliamentary election, while maintaining its position as the third largest party, DPP received 12.3% of the vote, marking its first electoral decline.
Early years (1995–2001)
The Danish People's Party was founded on 6 October 1995, after Pia Kjærsgaard, Kristian Thulesen Dahl, broke out from the Progress Party. Its first national convention was held in Vissenbjerg on 1 June 1996, where Pia Kjærsgaard was unanimously elected as the party's chairman. The party was established in protest over the "anarchistic conditions" of the Progress Party, and its "all or nothing" policies. It was initially seen by many as a "clone" of the Progress Party, but this was soon proved false. In a struggle to be respected as a responsible party able to cooperate with others and distance it from the conditions in the Progress Party, the leadership of the party struck down criticism from its members by means of expulsions. The party saw a highly centralized party leadership as necessary, as it would not tolerate internal conflicts and disagreements with the official strategy.
The party was the first successful parliamentary party in the Nordic countries to relate philosophically more closely to the French Nouvelle Droite, than to the previous Nordic form of right-wing populism. DPP represented a synthesis of several political currents: the Lutheran movement Tidehverv and its related journal, an intellectual nationalist right from the Danish Association (Den Danske Forening) and conservative populists from the Progress Party.
In 1997, the party won about 7% in the municipal elections, and did very well in traditional left-wing municipalities, potentially rivaling the Social Democrats. By 1998, the party had 2,500 registered members. The party made its electoral debut in the 1998 Danish parliamentary election, winning 13 seats and 7.4% of the vote. The party was, however, left with no influence in the formation of a government; it was shut out in large part due to the perception that it was not stuerent (i.e. not acceptable or "housebroken").
Conservative-Liberal coalition (2001–2011)
In the 2001 election, the party won 12% of the vote and 22 seats in parliament. It became the third largest party in the parliament, giving them a key position, as they would have a parliamentary majority together with the Conservative People's Party and Venstre. DPP was favoured by these parties, as it had supported the Venstre candidate for Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, during the election campaign. Eventually, it gave its parliamentary support for a Conservative-Liberal coalition government, headed by Prime Minister Rasmussen, in exchange for the implementation of some of their key demands, first and foremost stricter policies on immigration. The party had a key role in writing the rules and conditions for immigration in the immigration law that was established by the government in May 2002, which it called "Europe's strictest".
Poster for the 2007 election. It referred to the controversy the year before
, depicting a hand-drawn image of Islamic prophet Muhammad
with caption "Freedom of speech is Danish, censorship is not", and "We stand our ground on Danish values".
In the 2005 election the party further increased their vote, and won 13.2% of the vote and 24 seats. By young first-time voters the party showed even more popular, receiving one fifth of their votes. The party continued to support the government, and developed a broader policy base, as it made welfare policies its core issue, together with immigration policies.
In 2006, the party's popularity rose dramatically in opinion polls following the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, at the expense of the Social Democrats. The average of all monthly national polls showed DPP gaining seven seats in parliament from January to February, with the Social Democrats losing an equal amount. This effect, however, somewhat waned with the falling media attention to the cartoons controversy.
In the 2007 parliamentary election, DPP won 13.9% and 25 seats, and again continued to support the Conservative-Liberal government. Thus, in every election since its founding the party has had a steady growth, although the growth rate has stagnated somewhat in recent years. Parties in the political centre, particularly the newly founded New Alliance had sought to become the kingmaker and be able to isolate the immigration policies of DPP, but eventually failed. The party was a member of the Movement for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy (MELD).
In the 2009 elections for the European Parliament the prime candidate for the party, Morten Messerschmidt, won his seat in a landslide with 284,500 personal votes (most votes for any single candidate by any party); thus giving the party a second seat (which went to Anna Rosbach Andersen). The party made a breakthrough from its previous results in European elections, more than doubling its vote to 15.3%, and receiving 2 MEPs.
The party suffered a major defeat in the 2019 general election, recording its worst result since 1998. It won just 8.7% of the vote and 16 seats, a net loss of 21 seats since 2015; it fell to third place, just narrowly outpolling the Social Liberals.
The party holds that Denmark is not naturally a country of immigration. The party also does not accept a multi-ethnic transformation of Denmark, and rejects multiculturalism. Former party leader Pia Kjærsgaard stated she did "not want Denmark as a multiethnic, multicultural society", and that a multiethnic Denmark would be a "national disaster". The party seeks to drastically reduce non-Western immigration, opposes Islamization, and favors cultural assimilation of immigrants. In 2010, the party proposed to put a complete stop to all immigration from non-Western countries, a continuation of a proposal the month before to toughen the 24-year rule. They do, however, make the distinction between immigrants, those who intend to stay in Denmark permanently, and refugees, those that will only be in Denmark for the duration of the conflict, but ultimately intend to return home. The party has stated that it is more than happy to help those in need, but have a moral responsibility to the people of Denmark to keep Denmark Danish.
Cooperation with the Conservative-Liberal coalition government resulted in the implementation of some of their key demands, most importantly strong restrictions in immigration policies, which have resulted in what is often described as Europe's strictest immigration laws. The new government enacted rules that prevented Danish citizens and others from bringing a foreign spouse into the country unless both partners were aged 24 or above, passed a solvency test showing the Dane had not claimed social security for 12 months, and could lodge a bond of 60,011 kroner (about US$10,100). One declared aim of this was to fight arranged marriages. These new rules had the effect that while about 8,151 family reunification permits were granted in 2002, the number had fallen to 3,525 by 2005. Some social benefits for refugees were also cut by 30-40% during their first seven years in power. Ordinary unemployment benefits were replaced by a reduced "start-up aid". Whereas the government coalition's declared aim with this was to improve integration by inciting people to work, immigration spokesman Søren Krarup of DPP has expressed his content in that the start-up aid has decreased the number of economic refugees greatly, showing them that "one does not find gold on the street, as has been told out in the third world". Nevertheless, total immigration increased post implementation of the migration reforms.
The party wants to improve conditions for the elderly and disabled, and advocates stricter punishments for crimes such as rape, violence, sexual abuse, reckless driving, and cruelty to animals. It supports grants for specific research into terrorism, Islamism, and Cold War history as well as increased defense spending. It also wants to maintain the Danish monarchy and the current Danish constitution, and to abolish the 'hate speech' clause in the Danish criminal code.
The party opposes a cession of Denmark's sovereignty to the European Union and seeks to reform the EU. It also opposed the Euro currency and wants to maintain the Danish krone and also opposes the accession of Turkey to the European Union. Following the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union in 2016, several members of the DPP have expressed support for holding a referendum on Denmark's membership of the EU, but later its plan was changed and the party favours reformists in EU instead.
The party seeks international recognition of Taiwan and supports Taiwan in its disputes with the People's Republic of China. In 2007, the party opposed the Danish government's plan to recognise the independence of Kosovo, and maintained the territorial integrity of Serbia. The DPP is supportive of Israel and opposes the recognition of Palestine on the grounds that there is no effective Palestinian state, and wants to move the Danish embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The DPP also supports Danish membership of NATO.
Analysis of vote
- An analysis by the trade union SiD after the 2001 election stated that among unskilled workers aged under 40, 30% voted for DPP and only 25% for the Social Democrats.
- Decreased importance of "economic cleavage": Several authors believe that the political "cleavages" of European societies have changed over recent decades Contemporary Western European democracies are characterized by two major cleavage dimensions: the economic cleavage dimension, which pits workers against the capital, and which concerns the degree of state involvement in the economy, and the socio-cultural cleavage dimension.
- Referendums brought the rejection of the Maastricht Treaty and the Euro. The DPP has managed to harness this scepticism more effectively than others.
One feature, compared to other Danish parties, is that the Danish People's Party is usually underrepresented by about 1-1.5% in opinion polls. Election researchers have suggested that the party's voters may be less interested in politics, and therefore declining to talk to pollsters, or that voters are reluctant to reveal their support for the party to pollsters.
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