What do Swedish moose do when they aren’t preparing suicide attacks against drivers or shooting hunters? Answer: They go to a restaurant.
Actually, the bells tolled for Centrum-Demokraterne back in 2001 when the family-run party lost its seats in the Danish parliament. What we’ve witnessed since then has been a kind of dance of the undead.
The party started its life in 1973 as a refuge for right-wing Social Democrats who were frustrated by that party’s left-leaning strategies in economic and foreign policy following 1968. So, CD were pro-NATO, pro-EEC, pro-home ownership, pro-cars and anti-modern education.
And they had Erhard Jakobsen as an energetic political communicator. (During the 1960s and early 1970s, Jakobsen was the mayor of my hometown, the Copenhagen suburb Gladsaxe – back then the place was considered one of the Social Democratic model councils, especially with regard to education).
During the turbulent 1970s, CD’s complete lack of ideology and organisation was less of a problem. The party was always needed to put together a majority in crisis agreements, and during election campaigns Jakobsen always performed some kind of stunt that would catapult his troop over the 2% cutoff.
As times changed, so CD changed its image – and its electoral appeal. In short, instead of being the nasty, paranoid social democrats, the CDs became the nice liberals, especially when it came to immigration policy. And the party managed to live on for another fifteen years.
The party’s weaknesses began to be obvious in the early 1990s following the exit of Erhard Jakobsen, the fall-out from the Tamil refugee scandal which brought down the Poul Schlüter’s government and the fall of the Soviet empire. That CD entered Poul Nyrup Rasmussen’s government in 1993 made sense in the parliamentary arena, but not in the electoral arena. Also, pro-NATO and pro-EU policies were uncontroversial by then and the party was left with tax benefits for home services as its shtick.
It was not enough. In 1996, CD left the government after a budget agreement which was supported by the Socialist Party and in 2001, the party simply slipped under the 2% cutoff and was reduced to a political sideshow, appearing then and now.
Today, CD shed what was left of its political identity and credibility by accepting Louise Frevert as a member. Until the next election, she will be representing the party in the Danish parliament.
Frevert is, to put it mildly, a loose cannon who burst onto the public stage in the 1980s as a belly-dancer, then became a member for the local council in Copenhagen for the Conservative Party before moving to the Danish People’s Party in 1999. No doubt to the endless relief of the Conservatives.
She added a parliamentary chair to her political portfolio in 2001 and was slated to be the leader of the Danish People’s Party in Copenhagen in the 2005 local elections when things took a nasty turn. It emerged that Frevert had published a number of statements about Muslim men on her homepage which, again to put it mildly, could only be categorised as offensive. She managed to get herself tangled into ever more confusing explanations before settling on a version according to which her webmaster had written and published the texts without her knowledge. (See also this old post from November 2005). The top brass of the Danish People’s Party were no doubt relieved when Frevert finally left the party.
In any event, Louise Frevert’s latest stunt has put her on the frontpages of Danish newspapers yet again and made me write a far too long blog-post about an event of little political significance. Perhaps the best assessment of today’s developments was made by Søren Espersen from the Danish People’s Party who simply called Frevert’s and CD’s move surreal.
I point you at today’s xkcd.