Denmark is a famously “normal” (i.e., above average) country: Francis Fukuyama’s 2011 opus The Origins of Political Order posited that the goal of political philosophy should be to help the average country in “getting to Denmark.”
That’s particularly striking because Denmark is a country where immigration restrictionism, often denounced in the United States as being clearly the obvious enemy of normality and sophistication, has had some success at both the ballot box and in the the legislature in getting a law through to cut down on forced arranged marriages (often between cousins) for purposes of immigration fraud. A coalition supported by the restrictionist Danish People’s Party won elections in 2001, 2005, and 2007. That strikes me as what sophisticated normal politics would look like in the 21st Century, but to the U.S. media, that just is weird.
The economic downturn led to a left coalition forming a minority government after the 2011 election. But this week’s election saw the DPP’s percentage of the vote grow from 12.3% to 21.1%.
From the New York Times:
Anti-Immigrant Party Gains in Denmark Elections
By MELISSA EDDY JUNE 18, 2015
In an election that turned on economic uncertainty and fierce debates over immigration, Danish voters on Thursday ousted their center-left government in a clear swing to the right that unexpectedly elevated an anti-immigrant, anti-European Union party that had been on the margins of the country’s politics.
Polls had predicted a close race, but as the night wore on, the far-right Danish People’s Party emerged in second place over all, raising questions about the role it could play in a new government and the country’s path in the coming four years.
The outcome took even senior members of the Danish People’s Party by surprise. “It’s gone beyond my wildest expectations,” Peter Skaarup, a senior lawmaker with the party told The Local, a Danish news outlet. “I know we often fare better in these elections than the polls suggest since people often aren’t willing to admit that they vote for the Danish People’s Party, but it really does look fantastic so far.”
Based on preliminary results published by national broadcaster DR.DK, the center-right bloc that includes the Danish People’s Party secured a majority of 90 seats in Parliament. That would allow it to form the next government, with the leader of the conservative Liberal Party, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, expected to become prime minister. …
Although the Danish People’s Party won more votes than the Liberals, none of Denmark’s many smaller parties was willing to form a government with it, according to Kasper M. Hansen, a professor of political science at the University of Copenhagen. The election, called by Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt just three weeks ago, came at a time when Danes increasingly feared that their cherished system of generous welfare benefits was being abused by migrants from southern Europe and a recent surge of more than 14,000 asylum seekers, mostly Muslims.
The country remains shaken by a Feb. 14 shooting rampage in Copenhagen by the 22-year-old son of Palestinian immigrants at a free-speech event and outside a synagogue that left two people dead and five police officers wounded. …
Both of the leading parties had pledged a tougher stance on immigration, with the prime minister campaigning on a vow to require refugees to work — an unusual position for her party.
Denmark has consistently ranked among the world’s happiest nations, but the flow of immigrants ignited a backlash that has heightened nationalist sentiments, something that also unfolded with political upheaval in neighboring Finland — where the populist Finns Party joined the government — and to some extent in other European countries.
“Immigration has been a very key and decisive issue in this campaign,” Mr. Hansen said. Debate focused largely on the number of workers coming from places like Bulgaria and Romania, what sort of benefits they should receive, and whether Denmark should take in more of the migrants arriving at Europe’s southern borders, he added.
Those sound like normal issues for the normal voters of a normal country to democratically debate, but in the U.S. such discussion is considered scandalous.