Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Thursday's vote will be the first indicator of the national standing of a right-wing populist party in Europe since the massacre in Norway. In July, Anders Behring Breivik murdered 77 people in Oslo and on the island of Utøya. It will also be a test of one of Europe's most influential right-wing populist parties. In the manifesto he wrote before embarking on his murder spree, Breivik even referenced the anti-immigrant Danish nationalists. "He also had contact to Socialists," Messerschmidt retorts, unblinking.

For 10 years now, the People's Party has backed the minority government in Copenhagen -- causing a sustained shift in the country's political climate. So far, the nationalists have succeeded in pushing through legislation to tighten at least 20 laws pertaining to immigrants and asylum seekers. Traditionally liberal Denmark is now the country with the most conservative legislation for foreigners in Europe -- an achievement that makes the People's Party proud.

Its members are fond of fomenting fears of "Eastern European criminal gangs" and refer to the Muslim religion as a scourge, saying, "Islam is a fascist ideology." The party flatly rejects the European Union and has called for a "strengthening of Danishness." One party strategist recently demanded that proof of "blood ties" to Denmark should be a prerequisite for Danish citizenship. The statement was quickly retracted.

Rhetoric like that attracted up to 13.9 percent of the vote in 2007 elections for the Danish People's Party. The degree to which right-wing populist sentiment has become acceptable to society in Denmark is underscored by the discovery only a few weeks ago of a far-right underground movement.

A Secret Network of Extremists

The "secret lodge" with the name ORG, has formed the "backbone of the extreme right in Denmark" for more than 20 years, the journalists' initiative Redox concluded, reporting that the group was linked to racist associations, extremist football fans and neo-Nazis.

The secret network also reportedly conducts ceremonies reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan and espouses its teachings of a "utopia of an ethnically homogenous society" at a private school attended by around 200 pupils. It also operates martial arts and shooting clubs and maintains a black list of politicians deemed to be "traitors to their country."

A number of founding members and leading representatives were previously members of the Danish People's Party. Their names have been listed in a 109-page document compiled by Redox. Meanwhile, the Danish government's secret service, PET, has confirmed that it is aware of the lodge.

Public opinion researchers are predicting the right-wing populists will fall to 12 percent support on Thursday, not much of a drop at all. Still, the Social Democratic party's deputy chairman, Nick Haekkerup, is pleased, noting "it would be the first election ever in which the right lost."
Source: Der Spiegel

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