Naser Kader at one point has claimed that his time as a member of the Copenhagen City Council was a complete waste of time. One reason was that the council as such is an irrelevant political organ as all real decisions are made by the Magistrate*, another that the political style in Copenhagen politics was less than constructive. To put it mildly.
Recent developments support Mr. Kader’s observation.
Political corruption is rare in Danish politics, even though there have been some high profile cases over the years: A former mayor of Aalborg had his house – and a lot of other things – refitted by local contractors – while the former mayor of the former City of Farum Peter Brixtofte was sentenced to two years in prison this week for organising a scheme including contractors and the local football club, now known as F.C. Nordsjślland.
Still, this is not Sicily – or even Germany – but Danish media have reported that the head of the Budget Office has asked police to investigate an alleged case of extortion by a member of the City Council against the construction firm NCC. The politician – who has not been named – is a Liberal and the affair has led to an angry exchange between the local Liberals and the Social Democrats under Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard.
To make a long story short, the Liberals accuse Mayor Bjerregaard of using the police to deflect attention from her own problems with realising her promise of providing cheap housing, conflicts over school budgets and dealing with the fall-out form clashes over the Youth House on Jagtvej. Ms. Bjerregaard on the other hand accuses the Liberals of cheap politicking.
Since the public does not have the details of the case available, I will only report what local commentators have said:
First, either the Social Democrats are right and the Liberals are damaged politically, or the Liberals are right and the Social Democrats damaged. In any case public regard of the local politicans is likely to suffer. (Quote: Henrik Qvortrup)
Second, something is rotten in the City of Copenhagen. (Gunnar Gjelstrup)
Some thoughts: Maybe Copenhagen would benefit from changing from the Swiss-style Magistrate style of government to a parliamentary style of government. The local framework was changed recently to make the division of tasks between the Council and the Magistrate clearer but apparently without success. On the other hand, I would have to say that Gunnar Gjelstrup in his comparison of Copenhagen and Stockholm underestimates the chaos surrounding local government in Stockholm.
*In Danish, the term Magistrate is used for the collective body of mayors or aldermen governing the larger cities.