JØRGEN GOUL ANDERSEN & TOR BJØRKLUND: SCANDINAVIA AND THE FAR-RIGHT OFFPRINTS - PDF

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JØRGEN GOUL ANDERSEN & TOR BJØRKLUND: SCANDINAVIA AND THE FAR-RIGHT Introduction Three Waves of the Far-Right First Wave: Neo-Fascism Second Wave: Tax Protest Third Phase: Xenophobia The Politicisation

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JØRGEN GOUL ANDERSEN & TOR BJØRKLUND: SCANDINAVIA AND THE FAR-RIGHT Introduction Three Waves of the Far-Right First Wave: Neo-Fascism Second Wave: Tax Protest Third Phase: Xenophobia The Politicisation of Immigration Until the Mid-1980s: No Political Divisions The Mobilisation of the Immigration Issue From an Economic Issue to a Cultural Issue Internal Conflict over Immigration The Switch to Pro-Welfare Parties The Contemporary Far-Right The Failure of the Far-Right in Sweden and Finland Differences in Attitudes The Supply of Parties Institutional and Media Barriers Preconditions for the Formation of New Parties Conditions of Consolidation: Leadership and Organisation Party Competition and Prominence Conclusions OFFPRINTS This essay is published in The Far Right in Europe. An Encyclopedia, Peter Davies with Paul Jackson, editors, Oxford: Greenwood World Publishing, 2008, pp It was written in The radical right parties in Scandinavia are constantly changing. All information regarding this topic was current as of that time. 1 Due to an editorial mistake the name of Jørgen Goul Andersen was excluded in the encyclopedia 1 JØRGEN GOUL ANDERSEN & TOR BJØRKLUND: SCANDINAVIA AND THE FAR RIGHT Introduction In 2006, the main parties on the far-right in Scandinavia are: the Danish People's Party (Dansk Folkeparti, DPP) in Denmark, and the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, FrP) in Norway. Both are well-established parties with a long record. The DPP founded in 1995, but the successor of the Progress Party which was represented in Danish Parliament from 1973 gained 13.3 per cent in the 2005 election, up from 12.0 per cent in Since 2001, it has been the key coalition partner of the Liberal-Conservative minority government. The FrP, has also been represented in Parliament since Though it has had less direct influence on government, the FrP has been even more successful in electoral terms as it won 22.1 per cent in the 2005 election, up from 14.6 per cent in In Sweden and Finland, there are no true equivalents. The True Finns (Perussuomalaiset, TF), which in 1995 succeeded the populist Finnish Rural Party, bears some resemblance to the Danish and Norwegian parties in its resistance to immigration, but is otherwise quite dissimilar. It gained 1.6 per cent and three seats in the 2003 parliamentary election, up from 1.0 per cent in 1999, and its chairman, Timo Soini, received 3.4 per cent in the 2006 presidential election. In Sweden, the populist New Democrats (Ny Demokrati, NyD) came out of nowhere shortly before the 1991 election and won 6.7 per cent of the votes, only to disappear almost as rapidly as it emerged after the next election. By 2006, the closest relative was the Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna, SD) which, historically, has roots in the extreme right. It gained 2.9 per cent in the 2006 election, up from 1.4 per cent in However, this result was not sufficient for it to pass the four per cent threshold for representation. Local elections were held at the same time as the parliamentary election, and here the SD were represented by as least 200 members in the municipal councils, with a stronghold in south-western Sweden (Scania). Even if the result was an all-time high, it was still far below the election results for the Norwegian and Danish parties. For this reason, this chapter focuses on the Danish and Norwegian parties. Below, we take our point of departure as Klaus von Beyme's identification of three waves of mobilisation 2 of the far-right in postwar Europe. The following section will describe the mobilisation of anti-immigration policies and the transformation of the parties. Then the chapter will analyse the movement from anti-tax policies to a broadly pro-welfare position, and relate this change of party position to the changing cleavage structure in western European societies. The final section will then briefly discuss why the far-right has been so successful in Denmark and Norway and equally unsuccessful in Sweden and Finland. Three Waves of the Far-Right To describe the development of the far-right in Scandinavia, we can take our point of departure the identification of three waves of post-war mobilisation of the extreme right in Europe, as postulated by Klaus von Beyme. 1 He distinguishes between a first wave of neofascist or neo-nazi parties that emerged shortly after the war; a second wave of tax revolt parties that began with Pierre Poujade's party in France in the second half of the 1950s; and finally a third wave of xenophobic parties which have emerged from in the mid-1980s onwards. First Wave: Neo-fascism The first wave was virtually non-existent in Scandinavia. Like elsewhere, Nazi parties had been established in Scandinavia in the 1930s, but they obtained very little electoral support. In both Denmark and Norway, the parties had a peak support of just over 2 per cent, and the Swedish parties remained even smaller. After the war, all organisations with a past as collaborators and supporters of Nazism were silenced in Denmark and Norway. For Swedish Nazis, old networks were slightly easier to sustain, but the number of sympathisers was small. One of the oldest organisations, the national-socialist Nordic Reich Party (Nordiska Rikspartiet, NRP), founded in 1956, occasionally put up candidates in national elections, but the number of votes it received is estimated to be in the low hundreds. 2 However, the first chairman of the SD, Anders Klarström, had a history as an NRP activist. In Denmark, a small Independent Party ran for elections between 1953 and 1968 and typically obtained some 2-3 per cent of the vote. In 1973 it put up a few candidates on the party list of the Progress Party and had one representative elected. However, even though the Independent Party was far to the right, it was not a far-right party. It was founded by a former Liberal prime minister as a reaction to the abolition of the two-chamber system in 1953, and simply advocated more orthodox liberal and non-socialist policies. 3 In Norway, there were no parties on the far-right at this time. However, Anders Lange, who became the founder of the FrP in 1973, had unsuccessfully tried to launch a far-right party in the 1950s. Anders Lange was a strange political propagandist operating on the fringe of the established right wing. Before the war, he had been affiliated with a right-wing organisation sympathetic to fascism, but he later became definitely anti-fascist and actively opposed the German occupation. To conclude, the first wave of far-right mobilisation was virtually absent in Scandinavia. Even though there are a few links to the past, especially in the Swedish case, a balanced assessment suggests that modern far-right parties in Scandinavia are not rooted in any historical tradition of right-wing extremism. Further, it is debatable whether the term extremist in this context is an appropriate one. Second Wave: Tax Protest The parties of the second wave - the Progress parties in Denmark and Norway and, two decades later, the NyD in Sweden - were populist tax protest parties. Nevertheless, these parties were quite different from the party of Pierre Poujade a couple of decades earlier. First and foremost, they had a less petite bourgeois outlook. In particular, there were no traces of petite bourgeois anti-capitalism or nostalgia for the past. Unlike Poujade's party, the second-wave parties in Scandinavia were parties of the mature welfare state, to some extent forerunners of the neoliberal retrenchment. However, the Danish and Norwegian parties succeeded in transforming themselves from second-wave parties to very successful representatives of the third wave. The Swedish variant, on the other hand, turned out to be a flash-in-the-pan party similar to Poujadism in 1950s France. The Danish Progress Party (Fremskridtspartiet) was launched by the tax lawyer Mogens Glistrup in 1972, and immediately experienced an explosive growth in opinion polls. In the election of December 1973, it obtained 15.6 per cent of the votes, and in the subsequent elections of 1975, 1977 and 1979 its support remained above 10 per cent. Inspired by Glistrup's success, Anders Lange established a similar party in Norway in The founders of both parties argued strongly for tax cuts and against the lavishness of the welfare state. Nevertheless, they were distinguishable from conventional right-wing parties not only on account of their anti-elitist, populist style and by their radicalism, but also by demanding more money for health care and old-age pensions especially in the Danish case. As has already been mentioned, these parties were to some extent forerunners of the neo-liberalism of the 1980s, which started when Margaret Thatcher became the prime 4 minister of Britain in1979, and Ronald Reagan became President of the USA in The subsequent wave of neo-liberalism reached Norway in 1981, when Kåre Willoch of the Conservative Party was appointed prime minister. The following year the Danish Conservative Party leader, Poul Schlüter, became prime minister of a centre-right government that introduced tough measures to stop the Danish economy's course towards the abyss. With such government measures, the Progress parties were rendered superfluous as proponents of neo-liberalism. Further, taxes were no longer a salient issue among voters. Accordingly, support for the parties fell to below four per cent in elections, and even lower in opinion polls in the early 1980s. Moreover, the founder of the Danish party was sentenced to prison for tax fraud, and spent about 18 months in jail between 1984 and The situation was critical, and new initiatives were needed. The opportunity for a new platform came when the number of asylum-seekers, who were typically of non-western origin, exploded in the mid-1980s. The latter issue was also to some extent exploited by the Swedish NyD, which was launched shortly before the 1991 election. However, the NyD must be classified primarily as a second-wave party. In Sweden, welfare state retrenchment was largely postponed until the 1990s, thereby creating the political space for criticism of the welfare state as too lavish. After the extremely severe economic crisis in Sweden, and the unprecedented retrenchment that followed after 1991, this part of the party's agenda soon became unusable. At that time, however, the party had already destroyed itself through political and personal disagreement, and what little remained of the party erroneously radicalised the neo-liberal aspects of the party's programme, while dropping the xenophobic tenor. It does not come as any surprise, then, that the party went bankrupt a few years later. Third Phase: Xenophobia This brings us to the third phase which, according to von Beyme, began across Europe from the mid-1980s, and was characterised by a xenophobia that was, in part, linked to unresolved social problems. The new parties of this third phase have variously been dubbed antiimmigration parties, New Populist/Neo-populist Parties, Radical Right-wing Populist Parties, New Radical Right Parties, and Extreme Right Parties. The term new right is preferable, but this chapter will continue to use the term far-right during the course of its discussion. Unlike the old extreme right parties from the first phase, typically the third-wave parties have no ideological relationship to fascism or neo-fascism. Most of these parties 5 undisputedly defend democracy, and they are also clearly against classical ideas of racism based on biological arguments and the idea of hierarchies of races. Rather, they argue that immigration is costly; that ethnic groups are culturally different; and that multiculturalism should be avoided because it undermines cohesion and generates conflict. This ethnopluralist xenophobia is often surrounded by a broader perception that the nation-state is undermined and threatened by Europeanisation and globalisation and, consequently, needs to be defended. 3 In Denmark and Norway, immigration arrived on the political agenda when the number of asylum-seekers exploded in the mid-1980s. In Norway, the figures increased from 200 in 1983 to 8,613 in In Denmark, the corresponding figures were 800 in 1983 and 9,300 in Thus there was a possibility of revitalising the Progress parties. In Denmark, Mogens Glistrup had already started to fraternise with racist groups in 1979, but that only resulted in internal unrest and electoral losses, in particular among better-educated voters. But, in 1985, the time was ripe. Immediately upon his release from prison, Mogens Glistrup made some very provocative statements that went far beyond the bounds of acceptability, but attracted attention in the media. Subsequently, the statements were translated into a more socially acceptable language by the new de facto party leader, Pia Kjaersgaard. In the parliamentary elections of 1987 and 1988, the Progress Party was revived, with 4.8 per cent and 9.0 per cent of the vote respectively (even though part of the increase from 1987 to 1988 must be ascribed to increasing political distrust). In Norway too, the issue of immigration resulted in a second breakthrough for the FrP, which elevated itself from 3.7 per cent in the 1985 parliamentary election to 12.3 per cent in the 1987 local elections. The party presented itself as the only movement that opposed immigration, arguing that money spent on asylum-seekers should be better spent on taking care of the elderly and sick people of an ethnic Norwegian background. Subsequently, this form of welfare chauvinism has been an important part of the political message of the far-right parties in both countries, while in Denmark the old tax issue has gradually been relegated. This process was catalysed in Denmark when former party leader, Pia Kjaersgaard, broke with the Progress Party in 1995 to launch her new DPP, which abandoned tax protest altogether in favour of a position as a pro-welfare, anti-immigration party. In Sweden, the far-right did not benefit much from the issue. After the disastrous 1994 election, the remaining elements the NyD took the opposite course to Pia Kjaersgaard and largely dropped the immigration issue in favour of classical neo-liberalism. The party went bankrupt a few years later. Only the SD, formed in 1988, took up the issue. The party gained only a negligible number of votes in the general elections of 1988 and 1991; by 1994 it received 6 14,000 votes; in 1998, it received almost 20,000; and in 2002 it received 76,300 votes, corresponding to 1.4 per cent of the electorate. In the September 2006 election, the party's support increased further, but still not enough to a high enough level to pass the 4 per cent threshold. However, as will be pointed out in the description of party transformations below, the three parties are in many ways dissimilar, and they have had differing levels of success in disassociating themselves clearly from more extremely racist and nationalist parties. The Politicisation of Immigration Until the Mid-1980s: No Political Divisions As will be pointed out below, the issue of immigration has triggered strong political divisions that cut across traditional left / right affiliations, and it has generated a new, two-dimensional political cleavage structure in Danish and Norwegian politics. As late as 1985, attitudes towards immigration among Norwegian voters did not vary much according to party preference, and FrP voters did not deviate from the population at large in this respect. But, from 1988 onwards, regarding attitudes to immigration all surveys locate FrP voters at one extreme and left-socialist voters at the other, with the Social Democrats in an uneasy and divided position around the centre. Likewise, a Danish opinion poll question from 1979 concerning guest workers revealed no difference at all between Progress Party voters and the adherents of other parties, except for a slightly more liberal attitude among left-socialist voters. This indicates that the issue was not politicised in Denmark either. The flow of migrant workers from circa 1970 had not made immigration an issue: their numbers were modest, they were not expected to stay, and there was nearly full employment. Few people objected to a situation where guest workers accepted the low-status jobs that the indigenous population left vacant. Nor was it a political issue when the decision was made in the early 1970s to stop immigration of guest workers. This was supported even by the left. But, with the massive arrival of refugees from the mid-1980s, the issue was redefined and became salient among voters. This started the third phase of the far-right s development in Scandinavia. The Mobilisation of the Immigration Issue Even though their figures remain modest, the number of non-western immigrants has increased rapidly in the Nordic countries. By 2006, non-western immigrants and descendants constituted about six per cent of the population in Denmark, and about five per 7 cent in Norway. However, immigrants are not evenly spread geographically. Especially in Norway, there is a large concentration in the capital Oslo. Further, the age profile of migrants is such that the proportion of immigrant schoolchildren is about twice as high as in the population at large. As labour market integration of non-western immigrants remains very low in the Nordic countries, problems are visible. Not least, there has been increasing public attention on social problems like ghettoisation, schooling, juvenile delinquency, language issues, unemployment, and welfare dependency - as well as growing awareness of prejudices and discrimination. Further, because the Scandinavian countries with the exception of the Sami people in the far north traditionally have been very homogeneous in religious and ethnic terms, and also not especially religious, learning to live with cultural diversity has also proved quite difficult. This issue is particularly problematic because, at the same time, religion has become an important source of identity-formation among immigrants themselves. In recent times, Islam has become the second largest religious denomination next to state Lutheranism. In Denmark, the number can be estimated to be around 200, ,000, 4 and in Norway just below 100,000, or, in relative terms, approximately four and two per cent of the respective populations. Election studies show that the issue is higher up in terms of voters interest in Denmark than in Norway. This is indicated by analysing questions put to the public about what formed the most important criteria when supporting a party (Norway), or about the most important issues that politicians should address (Denmark). In the last three Norwegian parliamentary elections , 2001 and only around five per cent of answers have been about immigration. In Denmark, the level has been much higher, especially in the 2001 parliamentary election, when one half of voters, 20 per cent of all answers, spontaneously referred to immigration as a central issue. In addition, the issue of immigration is more polarising in Denmark. In Norway, the prominence of immigration almost always involves negative attitudes: the vast majority among those who mention immigration as the most important issue for party choice also voted for the FrP. Contrastingly, in Denmark the pro-immigration camp have also mobilised on the issue. By 2005, people who were sympathetic to immigrants were about as likely to point to immigration as the most important issue as those who were negative. In particular, the centre party, the Radical Liberals, have benefited from this issue. From an Economic Issue to a Cultural Issue 8 In Norway as well as in Denmark, the arguments against immigration have also shifted from the economic to the cultural. In the manifestos of the Progress parties from the 1980s, immigration was discussed almost purely in economic terms. The FrP argued for supporting edu
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