It is always a bit annoying when somebody else comes up with a good formulation in a topic I find particularly interesting. Like: Is there a centre in the Danish party system and if so what defines it? So Kristian Madsen annoys be a bit tonight.
Madsen asks an important question: Can a party choose to be at the centre or does it occupy the centre because other parties decide that it is an essential partner? Ask the Social Liberals and they will say that centrism is a part of the party’s identity, ask anybody else and the answer may be slightly different. The difference is of course a question of what level of analysis “centre” or “centrism” refers to.
But Madsen is right: The main reason why the Social Liberals have been able to hold a central position in Danish politics is that other parties generally have preferred cooperating with the party to bypassing it parliamentary or trying to snatch its voters – if only because RV used to be a major second preference party.
These days things are more complicated. Aided by the Danish People’s Party, the Liberals and the Conservatives managed to snatch the parliamentary majority from under the Social Liberals’ nose in 2001. Even worse: The three parties did so by appealing to voters (skilled and unskilled workers) who would not – no: never – vote for the Social Liberals in an election. Conversely, the Social Democrats and the Socialists have realised that winning the parliamentary majority is a question of pulling voters directly from DF and the Liberals, not of making a parliamentary coalition with RV possible.
RV faces a further problem: These days the party shares its voter base with the Social Democrats and SF which means that if it tries to block or defect from a left-wing alliance, disgruntled voters have only one way to go. On the one hand, the party is likely to be necessary for the S-SF alliance in order for the left to win a majority, on the other hand there are a number of disagreements in economic and immigration policy which can make coalition negotiations blow up.
So, are S and SF repeating Poul Sørensen and Erik Eriksen’s old strategy from the 1950s and 1960s – trying to blast RV into oblivion – or do they have a plan B (sorry…) in case of a left-wing win in the next general election?
(If you have institutional access to Jstor, you might find Hans Daalder’s article from – euh – 1983 a fascinating read)
Hey, this was post #2500!