During the last 15 years the satirical column of the Copenhagen broadsheet Politiken At tænke sig (“Would you imagine”) has presented a number of variations on the name of the Social Democratic party.
Following the deposition of party chairman Svend Auken, the party was renamed Sjakaldemokraterne (“the Jackal Democrats”) and the contestants Auken and Poul Nyrup Rasmussen became known as Svend Afgang (“discharge”) and Poul Nykup (“New coup”).
These days the name has been changed to Suicidaldemokraterne – translation needless – while the party chairman Helle Thorning-Schmidt has been issued with a Macintosh PowerBook instead of a diary to which she can confess her innermost thoughts. (The pun is impossible to translate: A diary is dagbog – litterally “day book” – in Danish and of cause you would expect an adolescent girl but not a grown-up woman to keep a diary. A person using a Mac is supposed to be a hip urban character with a career in advertising or other forms of shallow work. A Social Liberal would use a Mac, not a Social Democrat).
In any event, the latest twist in the chaos which is the Social Democrats is that Berlingske Tidende on Saturday published a column predicting the imminent demise of Helle Thorning-Schmidt and the return of Ritt Bjerregaard to the top ranks of the party with Nicolai Wammen, the present mayor of Århus as the party’s next chairman.
This follows last week’s round of sackings on the parliamentary front benches and a truly bizarre conflict between Thorning-Schmidt and Bjerregaard over who should be the main speaker at the traditional Labour Day Parade in Copenhagen.
The fun really starts when you notice who the author of the column is: The former Minister of Social Affairs Karen Jespersen, who spent the last part of her active political career engineering a massive public conflict over the party’s immigration and integration policies. Her husband Ralf Pittelkow used to be the special advisor to Poul Nyrup Rasmussen in the early days of his chairmanship and term in office as Prime Minister before being unceremoniously discharged after conflicts with the line civil servants in the Prime Minister’s Office and taking up a post as political columnist at the conservative daily Jyllands-Posten (yes, the paper which published the Muhammad cartoons).
Oh, and lest we forget: The gruesome twosome Jespersen and Pittelkow started out as radical socialists back in the 1970s when radical socialism was à la mode but drifted towards the Social Democrats in the late 1980s when radicalism had lost its attraction among voters and academics and a change of government became a likely prospect. These days nationalist populism is the winning formula in Danish politics – and guess what: Jespersen and Pittelkow are there.