Parties with nationalist tendencies grow around the world

A wide variety of international political parties with nationalist policies are growing around the world. The Danish People’s Party was one of those parties until Denmark’s last election in 2019.

By Lily Burris and Angel Hui

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As there are many political parties around the world, the similarities between them are easy to find. Lots have a focus on immigration policy.

Many prominent political parties around the world are growing stronger in their nations, pushing policies that are anti-immigration, anti-multilateral international groups and pro-civil liberties.

Many countries have had elections in the last year or will have elections in the coming year. The United States is getting ready to have the next presidential election in November 2020. Denmark had its latest parliamentarian election in June 2019. The United Kingdom had its latest general election in December 2019. Each of these countries has their own nationalist party in their elections and shaping their politics.

Defining a nationalist party

Jonathan Polk, a political science professor from the University of Copenhagen, describes a nationalist party as one that tends to “prioritize the national community as something distinctive and worthy of preservation in the face of more internationally oriented tendencies” compared to other parties with more cosmopolitan values that see multiculturalism as a positive thing.

Polk says that research indicates two primary ideas for the appeal and growth of nationalist parties; both of which relate to the reaction of more open borders. One idea is cultural backlash and resistances to open borders, and the other idea relates to economic concerns and insecurity.

“I think nationalist parties put forward the idea that the nation state is a place, it’s a since of rootedness for people who somewhat alienated by contemporary society”, Polk says.

Nationalists parties tend to be opposed immigration policies that push for multiculturalism and multilateral international institutions such as the European Union, says Polk. They also focus on law and order relative to civil liberties.

Nationalist party supporters tend to be disproportionately more men than women, have lower levels of education and be from rural areas, Polk says.

Polk works on the Chapel Hill Expert Survey on party positioning, which asked political scientists to rank political party leaders in their countries on different policies and spectrums. In 2014, the most recent set of data, the survey asked about the nationalists or cosmopolitan conception of parties. The Danish People’s Party was a nine out of ten on that scale, or very far on the nationalist end of the scale.

“Based on that criteria at least, I think it’s fair to say that the Danish People’s Party is a nationalist party”, Polk says.

Danish People’s Party’s current state

In Denmark, a party with more nationalist tendencies is the Danish People’s Party, or Dansk Folkeparti. The party currently has 16 members in parliament, but from 2015 to 2019, there were 37 Danish People’s Party politicians in parliament. The party formed 25 years ago in 1995.

One of their press officers and former parliament member Kenneth Kristensen Berth says that the most important item on the Danish People’s Party agenda is immigration. Other important items on the agenda is the European Union, criminal policy and penalty, health care and social government. These items align with the typical description of a nationalist party.

“The Danish People’s Party have never described themselves as a nationalist party because in the Danish language, nationalism has negative connotations, so we described ourselves as a national or national-minded party”, says Berth.

Berth says that in the 2015 election the Danish People’s Party was underrepresented in people with higher education and overrepresented among the elderly population. There’s also a high density of supports in southern Jutland and the neighborhoods around Copenhagen.

Paw Karslund, a member of the local council in Tårnby, supports the Danish People’s Party because it’s “great party and it’s a party that was needed in this democracy”. Karslund says his dad was involved in politics while he was growing up, and considered joining his party, the Social Democrats.

“I can see a lot of similar things between the Social Democrats and the Danish People’s Party but on very important values like European Union and immigration policies then I have to take Danish People’s Party” Karslund says.

This piece is written for an international audience but is most likely to be picked up by Americans or Danes. It could be published by the Associated Press at ap.org.