This was much, much better: Does DF support the retirement reform or not? Does SF support the “24-year rule” or not and is it good news for the Social Democrats if the retirement reform does not deliver everything the government said? Three interesting questions.
Last things first: That the trade unions hate the retirement reform is not exactly news but hopes no doubt were raised when it was reported that the reform would not deliver all the savings the government had promised. Or will it? The Economic Council and other economists are unconvinced by the media debate.
This is complicated stuff, but the problem for the left wing and the trade unions is that – the present weak labour market aside – there are some nasty medium- and long-term demographic developments affecting the labour market and the public finances. The Social Democratic and trade union strategy looks more like closing the eyes and hoping something will eventually turn up. That the “12 minutes” and the “Big Plan” (or lack thereof) of the trade unions have vanished into thin air should also be a major cause for concern.
The questions surrounding the Social Democrats’ economic policies remain but the party can consider itself lucky that the government’s performance since 2008 hasn’t exactly been stellar. Expect the Liberals, Conservatives and the Social Liberals to keep poking at the lack of specificity in the Social Democrats’ plans.
Where does the DF stand on the retirement reform agreement? A good rule is that pacta sunt servanda but this hasn’t kept DF from making threatening noises regarding the May agreement, should the Conservatives jump ship and make immigration policy with the Social Democrats or should the Social Democrats abandon the permanent and systematic border controls. Or maybe not. Maybe the best explanation is that DF voters are split over the agreement and that DF wants something which will annoy the Conservatives during the campaign.
Still, should DF abandon the agreement after the election, then we are in the proverbial “new situation”.
Finally, the “24-year-rule” which was a cornerstone of the Liberal-Conservative government’s
anti-muslim integration policies. Basically, the rule can be described as using a nuclear bomb to clean a room – the official motive was to prevent forced marriages (something which most will agree exist and which is a problem in some immigrant communities), the unofficial … well, as we all know, only Turks, Palestinians and Pakistanis marry before the age of 24. And in any event, DF at one point wanted the age limit raised to 28.
Now, everything with numbers has an immediate appeal to the public and the Social Democrats decided – against the angry reactions from the Social Liberals – that they would keep the rule, should they return to government. SF followed suit in order to kill immigration as an issue in the coming campaign. The problem is that while the party leadership want to keep close to the Social Democrats (and the SocDems want to keep close to DF and the Liberals to attract voters), SF activists are less than happy. And there is also the risk of activists and voters defecting to the Red-Green Alliance. So, Villy Søvndal announced that he would work for removing the “24-year-rule”. Well, later. Maybe.
Needless to say, DF (and the Liberals) will be banging this drum very loudly in the coming days.
PS: I didn’t watch yesterday’s Handball Match on TV2. From a policy perspective Debatten, broadcast at the same time on DR2, was predictable and deeply depressing.