Rdeče in zeleno, predvsem pa levo – dansko Rdeče-zeleno zavezništvo

V zadnjih objavah smo veliko prostora namenili dogajanju na slovenski levi sredini in levici. Kot primer, kako lahko levica ne/podpira koalicije leve sredine, smo izpostavili dansko stranko (radikalne) levice Rdeče-zeleno zavezništvo in njeno delovanje v danskem političnem prostoru. Zavezništvo je nastalo leta 1989 z združitvijo treh strank (Leva socialistična stranka, Komunistična partija Danske, Socialistična delavska stranka) in neodvisnih socialistov. Danes stranka doživlja pravi razcvet. O sebi pravijo:

The Red-Green Alliance opposes corporate driven globalization, neoliberal politics and privatization and fight for a public sector in which people not profit are at centre. That is why we for years have had a slogan saying »People not profit«. As a democratic party, we stand for the extension of human and democratic rights. We therefore oppose the US-led so-called »war on terror« which confines the above mentioned rights.

Believing in building socialism from below the Red-Green Alliance put priority in social movements outside parliament – not least the trade unions and student movements. But the Red-Green Alliance also stands in national and local parliamentary elections.

The Red-Green Alliance is opposed to the construction of the European Union, which we see as a vehicle of European capitalism, and especially to the building of a European state and the establishment of a European army.”

Če je popularnost stranke v devetdesetih in v prvem desetletju novega tisočletja nekako stagnirala, pa gredo kazalci v zadnjih letih strmo navzgor. Tega ne kažejo samo volilni rezultati, ampak tudi naraščajoče članstvo v stranki.

Volilni rezultat Rdeče-zelenega zavezništva (vir: Spletna stran stranke):

RZ volitve

Stranka ima od leta 1994 neprekinjeno zastopnike v parlamentu. Če bi bile volitve danes, bi se Rdeče-zeleno zavezništvo odrezalo še bolje – dobili bi 10% glasov in več. Stranka na evropskih volitvah, tako je bilo tudi letos, ne kandidira (anti-EU drža), podpira pa listo Ljudsko gibanje proti EU, ki ob izvolitvi sedi v poslanski skupini evropske levice GUE-NGL.

Članstvo v Rdeče-zelenem zavezništvu (vir: Spletna stran stranke):

RZ clanstvo

Zaradi preglednosti nismo vzeli vseh let, ampak le določene. Iz grafa je lepo razvidno naraščanje članstva. Posebej strmo je, kot rečeno, v zadnjih letih. V letu 2013 je stranka tako premogla že skoraj 9.500 članov. Zgolj za primerjavo, leta 1992 jih je bilo komaj 1.000.

Stranka nima predsednika/predsednice, ampak kolektivno vodstvo. To za levo usmerjene stranke ni nenavadno. Primer(e) imamo tudi pri nas. So pa v ospredju vseeno določene osebe, ki so neke vrste prepoznavni obrazi stranke in to je pri Rdeče-zelenem zavezništvu zagotovo Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen.

V nadaljevanju prilagamo besedilo Inger V. Johansen, ki je v originalu objavljeno na spletni strani Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung (direkten dostop do pdf-ja tukaj) in podrobno govori o fenomenu Rdeče-zelenega zavezništva (zbornik govori tudi o drugih (radikalno) levih strankah na Danskem in v Evropi). Pred tem pa samo še razlaga najbolj pogostih (in pomembnih) kratic v članku: RGA – Rdeče-zeleno zavezništvo, SD – Socialni demokrati, SF – Socialistična ljudska stranka, RV – Danska socialno liberalna stranka.

The RGA

The Red-Green Alliance (RGA) was formed in 1989 based on the hard-won experiences of the parties of the revolutionary, communist and new left during the 1970s and ’80s, which showed that in order for the currents of the radical left to gain relevance and political influence at the parliamentary level as well as outside parliament, it would be necessary not only to cooperate, but to transform that cooperation into a new kind of alliance or party, with room for diversity and different tendencies. The main basis for this was the political reform of the DKP in the late 1980s, which opened the way for closer cooperation with the VS and the Trotskyite Socialist Workers’ Party (SAP, a Fourth International party), and led to the formation of an electoral alliance able to achieve the 2 % of the votes needed to enter the Folketing. In 1991, the RGA introduced individual membership, at the same time admitting a number of ex-Maoists into the Alliance. It soon grew into a party, the great majority of the members of which had no prior experience in the founding parties.

The RGA is based on socialist ideology and a Marxist analysis. It sees itself as a party of the grassroots, and is working for a society based on democratic socialism and ecology. The party is opposed to capitalism and neo-liberal globalisation. The RGA is the most leftist party in the Danish Parliament, which it entered at the election in 1994, winning six seats (op. 16). In the 2007 election, it achieved 2.2 % of the votes and four MPs. In the local elections in November 2009, it elected 16 members of regional and local councils, and one deputy mayor in Copenhagen (op.17). The RGA has never stood in European elections, but has chosen to support the two Danish EU-critical movements. It has no youth organisation, but cooperates closely with Socialist Youth Front (Socialistisk UngdomsFront/SUF), with just over eleven00 members.

Membership/party structures

The membership of the RGA now exceeds 4500, having doubled since 2003–’04; 44 % are women. The average age of members is 43–44 years, but with a wide age-class distribution: Approx. 25 % were born between 1945 and 1959, and approx. 34 % after 1980. The party’s greatest strength is in the capital and larger towns: half of the members live in Copenhagen, and some 16 % each in Zealand and Mid-Jutland, which includes Århus, Denmark’s second largest city (op. 18). The social background of the members is mixed. Around half are trade union members, mostly in three or four unions for professions requiring higher education – school teachers, child care centre employees, and other public sector workers – as well as the unskilled workers’ union «3F».

The party is pluralist, with participatory democracy expressed in various ways: There is traditional representative democracy, with the election of delegates to party congresses and of members of the National Executive Board, as well as of the parliamentary lists – but combined with mechanisms that seek to counteract centralisation and increase democracy: There is no party chairman, but rather a collective leadership, and a high degree of autonomy of local branches, committees etc., some with meetings open to non-members. Elections to the National Executive Board include provisions for minority protection. The party leadership, MPs, deputy mayors, and party secretaries and employees are subject to a system of rotation, with a maximum tenure of seven years. In practice, this is extended somewhat for MPs, as the rules have been adapted to the electoral system and practices. All employees, including MPs, receive equal pay – that of a skilled worker in Copenhagen; the MP contribute the rest of their salaries to the party. The party has also remained true to its origins in terms of its rooting in various left currents, and guarantees the right to form factions and tendencies. In 2004, it adopted a gender quota system for the National Executive Board. The party often uses outside speakers and «experts» to help address critical issues. In 2007, university students prepared a study to improve the inclusion of women in party leadership work; it has subsequently been used as a basis for new initiatives in the party. Similarly, it has asked or hired outsiders to analyse the RGA electorate after recent elections.

The electorate

One such study (op. 19) after the 2007 election showed that the party was especially strong among voters with higher education, and, geographically, in Copenhagen; compared with the 2005 election, it lost votes among women and workers/people with less education, as well as, geographically, outside Copenhagen. This loss of working class votes was new for the party, and due in part to the fact that the 2005 elections had given the RGA an especially high vote of 3.4 %, and increased the vote both among women and outside of Copenhagen. The age-class groups voting for the RGA are especially the «60s generation» and the young. But the study also showed that there has been a general tendency over the past 10 to 20 years for working-class voters to move toward the right – to the bourgeois parties, and in particular to the DV. The same profile of the RGA electorate was apparent in the local elections in November 2009, when the party won nearly eleven % of the vote in Copenhagen, a 1.4 % increase over the local elections in 2005, while suffering a setback nationwide. But the regional election in 2009 showed that it had improved its vote since the general election of 2007, from 2.2 % to 2.6 %.

Trade unions and social movements

Generally, the party works to combine parliamentary and extra-parliamentary activities, as it considers the strength of the labour and other progressive movements as crucial for political and social change. RGA members and activists are reasonably active in their trade unions, but they are few. In order to improve their efforts, the party has put quite a bit of work into starting to build up trade union branches within the party (the strongest branches mentioned above), with the goal of improving their contribution to strengthening the trade union movement.

With the weakening of Danish trade unions, their close ties to the Social Democrats also have weakened since the turn of the century. Under the bourgeois government, this led to deals and an understanding between the Trade Union Congress (Landsorganisationen/ LO ) and the government, but also to financial and political support by the unions for the election campaigns of all the three left parties, the SD, the SF and the RGA. In some unions, such as the public workers’ union FOA and the unskilled workers’ union 3F, the left-wing has gained strength and influence.

RGA members are often involved in civil society organisations, from parent-teacher associations to grassroots movements; these are generally centre-left or left-leaning, including environmental and climate action movements and solidarity movements with Palestine, Latin America etc. A number of RGA activists were also involved in a campaign last summer to defend Iraqi refugees who had sought refuge in a Copenhagen church to avoid being deported, and lived for some time in a refugee camp. Some RGA members have been active in the People’s Movement against the EU, and previously also the anti-EU June Movement, which was dissolved after losing its seats in the last EP election. A number of prominent RGA members have stood in EP elections on the lists of these EU-critical movements, which are centre left. The People’s Movement’s present MEP, Søren Søndergaard, sits with the GUE/NGL (United European Left/Nordic Green Left) Group; he is a previous MP for the RGA.

International cooperation

The RGA is very active internationally, and takes part in such left networks as the European Left (EL), the New European Left Forum (NELF), the European Anti-Capitalist Left (EACL) and, as an associate member, in the GUE/NGL in the European Parliament. The party is also – like the SF – part of the Left Socialist Group within the Nordic Council, where the Nordic left parties, including those of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, cooperate to advance their common political goals. The RGA has opposed the EU from the outset, but also sees it as providing an international perspective for working for a democratic red and green European alternative – a «different/another Europe». While supporting the Danish EU-critical movements, the RGA seeks to project its own left-wing criticism of EU neo-liberalism and militarism, in cooperation with left parties in Europe. And while cooperating with parties and movements elsewhere with differing views, it sees political and economic neoliberalism, and a lack of democracy, as an integral part of the EU, which it believes cannot simply be change; rather, the whole institution must be abolished. The issue of how to view the EU is probably the most divisive on the European radical left, even among groups that agree on other key policy issues. These differences need to be further discussed, and a way found for dealing with them, without creating problems for future cooperation. The RGA is involved in such European and international events as the European Social Forums, and to a lesser extent World Social Forum, and the anti-G8 meetings. The RGA Women’s Committee cooperates with the EL-Fem network, connected to the European Left, as well as with other women’s organisations and networks at the European level.

The economic crisis

The economic crisis of recent years is a clear challenge to the broad Danish left. There are different views of the crisis here, with the SD and SF being inclined to call for reforms of the financial sector, as well as increased investment in the public sector, while at the same time supporting the government bailout packages for the banks. Unfortunately the policies of the centre-left do not seem all that different from those of the present government, which also wants to invest in the public sector. The RGA sees the crisis as one of the capitalist system, but provoked and deepened by the effects of the deregulation of the financial sector, particularly the real-estate bubble, and by neoliberal policies in general over the past decades, implemented both by bourgeois and Social Democratic governments. The party was the only one in the Folketing to refuse to support the government bailout packages for the Danish banks in 2008 and 2009.

The electoral battle

Initially, the close cooperation and partnership between the SF and the SD caused them to move away from the RGA in parliamentary work, such as in drafting questions to government ministers, or submitting debate proposals. Moreover, on some issues, such as those related to immigrants and refugees, the left-liberal RV was often closer to the RGA than either was to the SD and the SF. Nonetheless, there was no doubt that an alternative government with the SD and SF in a central role would mean a positive change in social and environmental policies. For example, they planned to set up a state bank, to tax millionaires more heavily, and thus redistribute wealth in favour of the less well-to-do. They also planned public investment projects in, and solutions to, environmental problems.

The RGA was firmly opposed to neo-liberalism and privatisation, military action, NATO, and the EU Lisbon Treaty and its consequences. On these issues, compromises would have been necessary for any cooperation with an SD-SF government. In general the RGA was ready to support such a government, but rejected participation in it; as the election approached it saw no reason to change its position in that regard. While it would have preferred a left alternative based on cooperation with the SD and SF only, since the participation of the liberal RV would mean that the difference from the bourgeois government would not be great enough, both prospective ruling parties seemed to want the RV on board; moreover, it was likely that they would need its votes for a majority.

It seemed that compromises between the RGA on the one hand and the SF and the SD on the other might be possible on immediate demands and alternative policies to improve the daily lives of people.

The RGA raised demands in both the environmental and the social welfare areas intended both in the short and longer term to shift the balance of power in favour of the working people. These included:

– A large-scale employment plan with massive investment in public and democratically controlled production in green energy and health, to counteract the rapid increase in unemployment;

– A sharp increase in unemployment benefits to the level of the minimum wage of a skilled worker in Copenhagen, and a massive increase in social security benefits;

– The following demands to secure the economic basis for welfare and jobs for all:

· nationalisation of the banks, placing them under full public and democratic control

· a tax on financial and currency transactions, modelled on the «Tobin tax»

· significant boost in the corporate tax rate, to force companies which had made huge profits creating the crisis to pay for solving it;

– Expansion of environmental and energy policies to counteract the climate crisis, with tight restrictions on emissions, both at home and as Danish proposals at the European and international levels; here, party policies were very detailed;

– Measures to achieve an 80–90 % reduction in CO2 emissions in Denmark by 2040-’50, while upholding high standards of welfare, and a 50 % reduction by 2020;20 and, internationally, a 40 % reduction by 2020 for the rich countries, as the RGA had demanded at the COP15 in Copenhagen.

The RGA is opposed to the privatisation of energy, and to bio-fuels.

European parliamentary elections, June 2009

The EP elections were a success for the right-wing EU-critical DV, the SF and the People’s Movement against the EU, while the Social Democrats, the Radical Liberals and the June Movement lost one seat each (Denmark lost one of its 14 seats in the EP). Thus, the People’s Movement eclipsed the June Movement within the Eucritical camp, due in part to the fact that Jens-Peter Bonde, a well-known veteran of the movement, had stepped down as the June Movement’s MEP earlier in the term.

The SF’s vote was interesting in that the party attracted 15.9 % of the vote, yet scored around 18.8 % in opinion polls soon thereafter. This can be explained from an analysis of the votes for the People’s Movement (op. 21) according to which the Movement attracted the votes from the broad centre-left, taking 6 % of the Social Democratic vote, 13 % of the SF vote, and 64 % of the RGA vote (op. 22). The last figure was considerably lower than expected, since the RGA supported the Movement, and did not itself stand in the election, but apparently, many RGA voters – an estimated 40 % – did not go to the polls. The reasons are probably, first, that their party was not on the ballot, and second, because, like many other EU-critical voters, they saw no reason to vote in an election for a body they rejected in the first place. More women than men voted for the People’s Movement.

The large number of Social Democrats and SF voters who supported the People’s Movement is interesting, as it shows that the EU-critical position has not died out in those ranks, despite the very pro-EU line of those two parties. However, the popularity of the SF was apparently not hampered by its pro-EU position – which it, like other pro-EU parties, modified during the election campaign with greater than usual criticism of the EU.

Judging from the very many former Social Democratic voters attracted by the Eucritical DV and from the SD and SF votes for the People’s Movement, it can be assumed that there are still relatively strong EU-critical sentiments in the Danish working class.

As the election loomed, it became clear that the RGA’s parliamentary seats would be decisive in forming a centre-left government. Although the party might not influence the policy of such a government very much, the fact of its key position heightened its role and the public focus on its policies and demands. The RGA thus began to formulate policies it intended to push in order to move a future centre-left government more to the left, realizing that this would also depends on trade union/popular pressure. These proposals included a green employment plan, a stop to further privatisation, no measures worsening the conditions of the unemployed, no more bailout packages for the banks, and a peace plan for Afghanistan.

The centre-left takes power

On September 15, 2011, the parliamentary elections ousted the right-wing government and brought a new centre-left government to power, consisting of the Social Democrats, the Socialist People’s Party (SF) and the Radical Liberals (RV), with the RGA as a supporting party not participating in the government. The new prime minister is the leader of the SD, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Compared to the elections of 2007 however, the results were also a setback for the SD and in particular for the SF, the real loser of the election. They were unable to form a new government without the seats of both of the two other parties, which had made gains in the election. The result were as follows (results of 2007 in parentheses): The RGA was the big winner, and tripled its previous result, winning 6.7 % (2.2 %), for 12 seats; the SF dropped to 9.2 % (13 %) and 16 seats; the Social Democrats’ 24.8 % (25.5 %) and 44 seats was their worst result in history; and the RV’s 9.5 % (5.1 %) and 17 seats provided the margin of victory. On the government side, Rasmussen’s Liberal Party held its ground with 26.7 % (26.2 %) and 47 seats; the small Liberal Alliance climbed to 5 % (2.8 %) and 9 seats; and the Conservative Party was the big loser, dropping to 4.9 % (10.4 %) and only 8 seats. The right-wing extremist Danish People’s Party, also lost key votes, winning only 12.3 % (13.9 %) and 22 seats. With that, the left had bare majority of the 175 seats in the homeland, in addition, one of the two Faroe Islands deputies and both Greenland deputies joined the left, giving it a majority.

Politically, this meant that the SD and SF depended more heavily on the RV, which during the negotiations on the formation of the government exerted pressure to retain as much as possible of the economic and labour market policies of the former government. The new government programme thus turned out more neo-liberal than anticipated, although some of the measures, such as the Euro Plus Pact, were supported by the SD and the SF as well. Unwillingly, they had to accept the restriction on early retirement, and do without their proposed tax on millionaires. However, both the RV and the RGA agreed with the SD and SF on a more ambitious programme on climate and environmental policy, and very probably contributed decisively to reducing restrictive policies on immigrants and refugees.

Although an RGA gain had been expected for some time, increased support had begun to show in the opinion polls – along with a parallel downturn for the SF during 2010 and 2011. Nonetheless, the tripling of its seats from four to twelve was a huge surprise. Moreover, since the elections, both the SD and the SF have seriously declined in the opinion polls, while the RGA has gained further, from 6.7 % to 7.5 %, according to one poll published in November 2011 (op. 23); that would put it ahead of the SF, which scored 7 %. The disturbing fact is, however, that the radical left can’t make up for the decline of the SD/SF partnership and the present weakening of the new centre-left government.

The main reason for this development is not the adoption of the state budget, supported by the government parties and the RGA, which voted for a state budget for the first time in its history. Rather, from the outset, there has been a media campaign to the effect that the SD and especially the SF had broken their election promises, with even many SF members openly expressing their dissatisfaction. These broken promises were largely due to the power of the RV. There were also a number of unfortunate cases of mismanagement by some ministers and other top party people.

However, the most fundamental cause of the problems seems to be an unclear political profile due to the confused policies of the SD/SF partnership. This was already apparent in 2010, as the two parties decided to support a new point system introduced by the government to tighten its policies on immigrants and refugees; that seems to have been the start of the decline of SF, whose role in the partnership with the SD seems mainly to involve adapting to the latter’s policies. In the election campaign, this had even more dire consequences, as traditional SF policies and even SF leaders receded ever further into the background.

Conclusion

The disappointment with the new government has opened up a broad space on the left for the RGA, but it only partially explains the party’s electoral success, with a massive increase in votes all over the country, even on the tiniest islands – a major swing to the radical left. There is no doubt that other important factors have also contributed, included the RGA’s clear radical profile, and also a very popular leading figure, Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, a young woman MP who seems to have been able to voice the anger and frustration of broad sections of voters – wage earners, women, the young and immigrants – with the ten years of right-wing, neo-liberal and xenophobic policies of the former government.

Moreover, since the electoral defeat of 2007, the RGA had carried out very consistent and conscious work to better combine the party’s socialist and visionary perspectives with concrete demands and policies. Many of these policies – small steps to improve the lives of especially the most disadvantaged, and also support for environmental measures – were successfully brought into the negotiations on the state budget.

However, with regard to the large number of economic and labour market policies contained in the government programme and influenced by the policies of the former government, the government will very probably seek the support of the right-wing parties in parliament in the future. This may again affect the situation on the left. The RGA does not see the recession coming to an end, as do bourgeois economists and politicians. Even if it lets up, its effects, especially rising unemployment, will very probably last for several years. Increasing antagonism and conflict can be expected between employers, wage earners, and politicians, with attacks on social rights by employers and bourgeois politicians, using the crisis as a lever. While the unemployment level is not yet alarming, it will very probably rise in future, due to the poor economic prospects of Danish economy, after years of bourgeois neo-liberal misrule.

Opombe v tekstu (za našo objavo smo obliko opomb prilagodili):

Opomba 16: Website of Enhedslisten/de Rød-Grønne: http://enhedslisten.dk http://www.enhedslisten.dk/

Opomba 17: «Borgmestre»: see FN 10.

Opomba 18: These three of Denmark’s five regions account for approx. two thirds of the country’s population.

Opomba 19: Vælgerundersøgelse, op. cit.

Opomba 20: The RGA’s climate plan for CO2 reduction (in Danish): http://klima.enhedslisten.dk/sites/default/files/Klimaplan_web_0.pdf

Opomba 21: Folkebevægelsens stemmer til EU-valget 2009: Valgstatistik fra EP-valg (People’s Movement votes in the 2009 EU election: Elecion statistics of the EP election). The analysis is based on three surveys: An exit poll on EP election day, three opinion polls, and a separate poll of 3652 respondents.

Opomba 22: People’s Movement support was estimated to consist of approx. 20 % SD, 20 % SF, and 20 % RGA voters, with the rest from the bourgeois parties.

Opomba 23: See Politiken, an opinion poll by Megafon, November 25, 2011, p. 6. Also an article on the issue.

Vir:  Inger V. Johansen: The Left and Radical Left in Denmark. Zbornik: From Revolution to Coalition – Radical Left Parties in Europe. Pdf TUKAJ.

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One Comment on “Rdeče in zeleno, predvsem pa levo – dansko Rdeče-zeleno zavezništvo”

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