Back the Danish government?

Submitted by Matthew on 19 October, 2011 - 10:37

By Martin Thomas

Bjarke Friborg reported (Solidarity 220) that Denmark’s Red Green Alliance (RGA), after doing well in the 15 September parliamentary elections with 7% of the vote, is supporting the new government led by the Social Democratic Party (equivalent of the Labour Party in Britain).

Two arguments could be made for supporting the government. Without RGA support, the government alliance would have only 80 votes in parliament, while the “Blue Alliance” round the conservative Venstre party, which led the outgoing government, has 87.

And the Danish Social Democrats, unlike similar parties elsewhere in Europe, say they will respond to the economic crisis with a “stimulus package” of increased public spending, especially on education and infrastructure.

However, as Bjarke notes, the new government will be “firmly within the shackles of the capitalist system”. Even its promised reforms are modest. Should revolutionary socialists really support such a government, as distinct from supporting some of its measures?

The RGA “congratulates” the new government and is “willing to compromise and to reach agreements”. “We will fight from negotiation to negotiation to pull the new government in a more inclusive direction”.

The Social Democrats’ leading coalition partner, the Social Liberals (roughly similar to the Liberal Democrats in Britain), will surely also fight to “pull” the government in their direction, and from a stronger position.

There can be no objection to RGA members of parliament supporting beneficial measures of a Social-Democrat-led minority government. But a stance of general support, or a dogma that saving the government comes above policy issues, is bound to shackle the RGA to the government, as the government in turn is “shackled” to capitalist interests.

Support for extra-parliamentary movements does not resolve that problem. When the French Communist Party was in coalition governments with the Socialist Party in 1981-4 and 1997-2002, it said it would combine two levels of activity, one seeking the best deal within the government, and the other mobilising on the streets. This included the CP supporting protests against policies pushed through by CP ministers, with the devious explanation that the CP ministers were doing the best they could on their level, and the CP rank and file must do the best it could on its level.

The result was an effectively neo-liberal government, a discrediting of left-wing ideas, and a demobilisation of the working class.

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