In my Danish Politics and Society class, we gave presentations on all ten parties represented in Danish parliament after the 2019 election. From these presentations as well as discussing such parties with my host family I have found some intriguing comparisons.
In the US we have two main parties: Democrats and Republicans. Denmark has 10 ranging from the Red-Green alliance that is fiscal left and social left, to the New Right which is fiscal right and social right.
A key difference in why there are so many political parties in Denmark is that for a party to be represented in parliament they either must win a mandate (representative) in a district race where usually there are multiple mandates that are given out proportionally, or garner at least 2.0% overall nationally. This allows smaller parties to form such as the New Right (they formed in 2015) as one needs to convince only 2% of a nation as a whole to vote that party.
While doing research, I found that the turnout for the 2019 Danish election was about 85%. I have never seen a US election reach close to 70% turnout. I asked about this difference, and in Denmark, the state sends a letter to everyone that is eligible with information on when and where to vote. There is no registering to vote, as soon as you are eligible by age, you can vote. I feel that for the US to achieve better turnouts and more people voting (only about 61% of the eligible populous votes) and thus a better representative sample of the nation, they should implement an automatic registration system much like Denmark’s.
A fascinating point to note is that even the parties on the far fiscal right still advocate for the Danish Welfare state. The Liberal Alliance (LA) believes that the effective tax rate should be merely 40% across the board. In the US this is considered a leftist idea.
In Denmark income up to 500,000 DKK (~74,000 USD) is taxed at 35-40%, and anything more is at 50-55%. This amount of taxes is staggering for anyone use to the US system which has seven tiers with the highest bracket is at 37% for income exceeding 500,000 USD. For a comparison, if someone was making 74,000 USD a year in Denmark, they would pay $25,900 – $29,600 in taxes. In the US, they only pay $16,300.
In Denmark, this amount of tax dollars funds – for everyone – free public healthcare, reduced childcare and daycare costs, libraries, free public university and grants to pay for rent or books, and public transportation to name a few. For my host parents, they find it cheaper to pay taxes than to pay for all of these costs themselves.
One of the surprising things with Danish politics is the migration policy of most parties. Many of the parties believe that the migrant influx needs to be handled at the EU level and changed drastically. How the policy should be changed depends on the parties.
For example, the Radical Left (Radikale Venstre) believes that asylum seekers should register with the EU and then have the EU place migrants to each country as they see fit. The Left (Venstre) helped pass the Burka Ban law in 2018 and mandatory schooling for specific immigrant children to be exposed to “Danish Values.” The New Right takes an extreme view as they do not recognize the Muslim faith as they believe it is inherently anti-capitalist and anti-democracy and go as far to say that no Muslims should be able to practice publicly in Denmark.
Instead of migrants coming from Africa in the case of Denmark’s migrant crisis, migrants are coming from central America to the US. In the US, we see some of the same rhetoric being said. With the current influx of migrants coming across the southern border both parties agree that something must be done to help the situation. The current administration has tried to encourage asylum seekers to first apply in Mexico or wait days or months for their turn in the USA.