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Duties First, Rights Next! The Danish Social Democrats' Right Turn on Migration Politics

Social Democracy in the 21st Century

ISBN: 978-1-83909-953-3, eISBN: 978-1-83909-952-6

Publication date: 29 January 2021


The Danish Social Democrats have been through a lengthy period of ideological change and transformation, whose effects have become particularly manifest in recent times. This chapter argues that these developments are to be seen in the light of the particular Danish political context and developments, already prefigured at the dawn of the century. Notably, the populist and anti-immigration right in Denmark which quickly made use of the political opportunities to exploit the weaknesses, indecision and the ambiguities on the Right and the Left to gain support. The strategy repertoires activated by the Social Democrats to stem the electoral appeal of the right-wing populist anti-immigration have shifted from attempts to isolate, ignore and dismiss the saliency of some policy issues, towards efforts to adverse and recently to accommodate and co-opt stricter positions on immigration and tougher integration politics. While it is premature to tell whether the Social Democratic right wing turn on immigration helped undermining the populist right-wing momentum, the party has not yet managed to take back the support it hoped for. Moreover, the paradigm shift on immigration and the opening up to transversal alliances might mobilise new friends, but also shed old ones. The new pattern undertaken by the Danish Social Democrats seems also to require internal consent, more control and party discipline to avoid internal disagreements and criticism from within the party. Our interviews unravel some discontent with the restrictive right turn on immigration bubbling under the surface among the party ranks and files.



Meret, S. (2021), "Duties First, Rights Next! The Danish Social Democrats' Right Turn on Migration Politics", Brandal, N., Bratberg, Ø. and Thorsen, D.E. (Ed.) Social Democracy in the 21st Century (Comparative Social Research, Vol. 35), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 223-244.



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