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Denmark

Yearbook 1999

1999 DenmarkDenmark. Immigrant and refugee issues characterized the political debate in Denmark during the year. A key issue was the new integration law from 1 January, which resulted in Danes being entitled to SEK 2,000 higher social security contributions than refugees with residence permits. According to Countryaah official website, the UN Refugee Commission decided to investigate whether the law violated the Convention on Human Rights. In April, the Folketing passed another controversial law, which gave Kosovo Albanian refugees temporary residence permits on the condition that they did not seek asylum. At the same time, an international report showed that the integration of immigrants into the labor market is slower in Denmark than in the rest of the EU.

During the summer, a heated public battle erupted around some department store chains' refusal to allow Muslim women to wear shawls in the workplace. The Social Democrat-led government claimed that employers were breaking the law, but the department store chains decided to take the matter to court. A large majority of Danes in an opinion poll gave employers the right.

During the Shall match, there was an inflamed debate that some schools and nurseries stopped serving pork for Muslim children and only used meat slaughtered according to Muslim ritual. Danish People's Party leader Pia Kjærsgaard spoke of "deep contempt for Christian faith and an attempt to Islamize Denmark". Immigrant resistance gave the party increased support in opinion during the autumn, over 12%. In addition, over 2% said they would vote for the Progress Party, to which legendary founder Mogens Glistrup returned after several years of exclusion. Glistrup once again caused disarray with very xenophobic statements, and the party again split.

But the immigration debate also raised major concerns for the government coalition between Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen's Social Democrats and Radical Venstre. Nyrup Rasmussen and Minister of the Interior Thorkild Simonsen tried to curb a clear voter turnout from the Social Democrats to the Danish People's Party, while the radical wanted to change the integration law to the benefit of the refugees. The two parties also disagreed on visa practice.

In November, some 40 young people, so-called autonomous and immigrants of the second generation, went into hardship and caused major damage in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen. The riots were seen as a protest against the expulsion of a young man with Turkish citizenship but who was born and raised in Denmark.

Shortly after the uprising, Amnesty International and a number of refugee organizations presented a white paper claiming that the Danish Immigration Act had to be amended on seventeen points in order for Denmark to live up to its obligations to human rights. Just in time for a debate in the Folketing on foreign policy, Nyrup Rasmussen and Simonsen then gave in to the demands of the Radical Left and the voluntary organizations and announced that the refugees would be entitled to as much social assistance as other residents.

During the year, it brightened for the crisis-hit Danish export industry. This was partly due to a weakening Danish krone exchange rate against, among other things. the Swedish krona, partly on growth in several important export markets, such as Sweden. Danish growth was projected to be 1.7%, and unemployment fell slowly in the middle of the year to 5.6% in September.

In the European elections in June, the EU-negative parties stepped up slightly, and the no-say representation increased by a mandate to four of sixteen Danish members of the European Parliament. During the year, the Prime Minister declared that Denmark should join the EMU in 2002. However, he did not want to set the time for the promised referendum.

During the summer, earlier secret documents were released in the US National Archives showing that the Danish government in 1963 gave the US permission to occupy Danish areas and facilities if it was deemed necessary in a crisis situation. The US was then also allowed to bring nuclear weapons into Denmark.

1999 Denmark

The settlement of the welfare state

In Denmark, as in the UK and France, for example, the state has not significantly involved itself as a direct owner or co-owner of means of production, except for investment in and operation of the traditional areas (especially infrastructure), where the turnaround time of capital has been. too long to tempt private ownership.

In the Scandinavian countries - especially in Denmark and Sweden - is it to turn over more than a century of academic and political fighting, working to get done its own reproduction of a social contract, through the building of the so-called " welfare state ".

The state is very responsible for the reproduction of the labor force through a large social, health and education sector, and it has also succeeded in getting the state - in whole or in part - to provide the working class support for unemployment, illness and old age. These are tasks that, in most other highly developed capitalist countries, are mainly carried out through labor-funded schemes, or individual insurance. This development has led to - in comparison with other capitalist countries - an unusually large public sector.

It is a great step forward for the working class to get “the whole community” to contribute to these reproductive tasks through tax funding. But that is not an indication that the state has changed class character. On the contrary, with the special Danish prerequisites, the "welfare state" has been - and still is - a crucial prerequisite for the accumulation of capital. An economic prerequisite because it has provided the provision of a well-qualified workforce. A political prerequisite because the "welfare state" has communicated the concessions to the working class to secure its acceptance of the exchange.

The basis for the development of the «welfare state» has largely been class cooperation, but this has also contributed to weakening the working class. For the trade union movement, the prize has been that it has largely abandoned its independence from state power. It has become co-responsible for the changing policies of changing governments on many levels. It has become the extended arm of the state in the issue of controlling the unemployed. It has abandoned large parts of its original fighting opportunities, through the acceptance of the Conciliation Institution and Labor Law. Ideologically, there has also been a disarmament, in the form of a broad acceptance of the capitalist market economy.

At the same time, there have been significant deteriorations in the 'welfare state' since the late 1970's, which will lead to profound changes in the way capitalism works in Denmark. The state's influence on the economy has diminished, as has the collective element in relation to the financing of welfare goods.

The clear trend is precisely the gradual dismantling of public involvement in labor reproduction. This has been done through real cuts in the social, health and education sectors, and the introduction of user fees. And this has been done through the outsourcing and privatization of parts of these - and other - sectors.

The driving force behind this development is the need for capital to find ever-new investment areas and its need to keep the cost of labor as low as possible.

At the same time, since the late 1980's, there has been growing pressure from the establishment of the EU's "internal market" and the consequent efforts to harmonize budgetary and fiscal policy through EMU - which in turn also puts increased pressure on to harmonize social policy. And here Denmark and Sweden stand hopelessly alone in the EU with tax-financed social security.

The bourgeois parties have - especially since the late '70's, early' 80's - led the crusade against the public sector, through promises of tax cuts. Gradually, the Social Democracy has given in to - as a government carrier up through the 90's - to be responsible for the implementation of essential parts of liberalist politics.

This is also reflected in the labor market policy, where the Social Democratic governments of the 1990's have followed an even tougher line than the previous bourgeois governments in increasing competition among workers. This has been done through countless austerity measures against the unemployed - so-called "labor market reforms" - which have all been about making it more difficult to obtain the right to benefits and easier to lose it. This has been done through extensive use of job offers and activation schemes, which are about using the unemployed as wage presses - a principle that the Social Democracy also sought to extend to aid clients. And this has happened through the deterioration of the early retirement scheme.

All indications are that we are still only at the beginning of the settlement of the welfare state, and that the major bourgeois parties and the Social Democracy agree that the current course must be maintained. Welfare is removed from the public sector and made into an individual insurance question. EU harmonization is both a welcome excuse and an explanation for this development.

 

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