Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Something cheerful in the state of Denmark

Denmark’s centre-right party, led by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has won a comfortable second term in an election called a few months earlier than was absolutely necessary.

Why is that cheerful? Because this particular Danish government was the exact opposite of what we are told by American and British proponents of European “soft power”, European governments are and should be.

Mr Rasmussen has introduced welfare reforms and under his coalition government of Liberals, Conservatives and what passes for far right in Denmark People’s Party, the country’s GDP grew by 2.4 per cent last year. This is expected to be repeated this year. A spectacularly good result in western Europe.

The government had defied various human rights groups and imposed a strict control on immigration. Numbers were limited in order to focus attention on the need for those already in Denmark to integrate in the country and its liberal society. Welfare payments for new immigrants were reduced.

The most controversial part of Mr Rasmussen’s policy has been his support for the United States in the war against terror, specifically, in Iraq, and a consequent rise in the defence bill. There was a demonstration against the war on Saturday and there have been some calls to bring the 525 Danish soldiers back.

Mr Rasmussen has made it clear that he does not intend to change his policy. Interestingly, his socialist opponent decided not to campaign on the issue.

The European constitution, which will go to a referendum, probably later this year, was not part of the election campaign either.

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