According to newspaper reports, the Centre-Democrats (Louise Frevert, remember?) held their annual convention this week-end.
University College Malmö has a problem – only one in two students who enroll in a programme at the college take a degree – apparently one of the worst rates in Europe. The college on the other hand does not see this as a failure or even a problem.
There are some interesting variations in the finishing rates: Four out of fire students in nursing and health care students end their studies with a degree while only one in five students in peace and conflict studies do so.
Brøndby wins an away match. Against Viborg.
As the Danish media has seen September’s election frenzy vane, attention has turned in other directions with the fortunes of the Socialist Unity List (Enhedslisten) in the centre. The question everybody – or at least every political journalist – are discussing is: Will Asmaa Abdol-Hamid bring down the Unity List? The central organs of the party are now so concerned that they have called an extra session of the party’s executive committee to decide her future as a candidate for parliament.
What we do know it that the Unity List is having problems in the opinion polls. The party has always been a small one, hovering between 2 and 3 per cent of the vote, but polls during the late spring and early autumn have suggested that the party could very well find itself on the wrong side of the 2 per cent threshold in the next general election and as electoral outcomes in Denmark often are very close, losing the Unity List’s seats could cost Helle Thorning-Schmidt the chance to take over as prime minister of Denmark. So the stakes are high, not just for the Unity List, but also for the Socialist Party, the Social Democrats and the Social Liberal Party. (See: Gallup poll from 28 September, pdf-format)
But before discussing Abdol-Hamid, we should remember the old post hoc ergo propter hoc-problem: Just because support for the Unity List has fallen since she was elected as one of the party’s main candidates, we cannot conclude that Abdol-Hamid caused the decline. There may be other reasons behind the Unity List’s problems.
Non-Danes should know that the Unity List is a curious party, even in a Danish context. It grew out of the organisational and electoral collapse of the radical left-wing during the later part of the 1980s and started out as a conglomerate of Leninists, Trotskyists, Maoists, New-Leftists and supporters of the otherwise stillborn Danish Green Party. The idea was that running on a common list would increase the radical left’s chances of regaining representation in parliament. The list failed to gain representation in 1990 but succeeded in 1994 and it is only in later years that the list has transformed itself into a political party in the organisational sense.
As I see it, the fortunes of the Unity List are generally linked inversely with the fortunes of the Socialist Party. As the radical left collapsed during the late 1980s, so the Socialists prospered. In 1987, they managed to attract 14,6 per cent of the vote, but since then the Socialists have been in slow, but steady decline: In 2005 the Socialists only attracted 6 percent of the vote. 2005 was also the first election since 1966 where parties to the left of the Social Democrats polled less than 10 per cent of the vote, despite the Unity List getting 3,5 per cent of the vote.
I would argue that the decision to enter the national compromise about what would become the Edinburgh Agreement following the 1992 defeat of the Maastricht Treaty created many of the problems for the Socialist Party. Moving from an anti-EU stance to a relatively positive stance opened the field for the Unity List which stood firmly in the tradition of left-wing EU opposition.
After the 2005 election, the Socialists’ chairman Holger K. Nielsen resigned and was succeeded by Villy Søvndal whose reputation was more leftist than Nielsen’s. Equally, Søvndal wasn’t tainted by the 1993 compromise in the same way as Nielsen, so the Socialist Party again became an attractive alternative for anti-EU left-wingers.
Or to make a long argument short: In 2007, the Unity List is facing stiffer competition for the vote than at any point since 1993. And I haven’t written anything about the impact of Asmaa Abdol-Hamid yet.