Danish left-of-center allies have responded skeptically to the unconventional asylum proposal by fellow Social Democrats. At the same time, however, “group hugs” were promised by the anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party.
Refugees will no longer have the option of claiming asylum “spontaneously” upon reaching Denmark’s borders, according to the recent toughening of immigration laws proposed by the Social Democrats.
Instead, Denmark’s largest opposition party wants to send would-be asylum seekers to a Danish-funded and Danish-run facility in a yet undetermined North African country, while their cases are processed, Danish Radio reported.
While calling for a more humane refugee system compared with what is currently in place, Social Democrats leader Mette Frederiksen instead called for Denmark to receive so-called “quota refugees” distributed by the UN. In this way, she stressed, Danes themselves will be able to determine how many third-world immigrants they would like to receive.
“More [immigrants] have been coming to Denmark and to Europe than we have been able to integrate in a good and proper way,” Mette Frederiksen told Danish Radio, calling integration a “huge challenge for the cohesion of Danish society” and a “trial for the welfare state.”
The program called “Fair and Realistic” is part of the Social Democrats election campaign, and Frederiksen, by her own admission, is hoping for popular support.
Other left-wing parties, however, were quick to rebuke the idea.
“Indeed, integrating refugees is not without problems. But imagining you can just wash your hands of the job by delegating it to a country in North Africa, I honestly think shows a lack of solidarity,” Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen of the Red-Green Alliance, a fellow opposition party told the BT daily, doubting that the proposal conformed with international human rights.
Pia Olsen Dyhr, the leader of the Socialist People’s Party, admitted that she could see positive elements to the idea, such as helping refugees in a better and more sustainable way and increasing development aid.
The Social Liberals, yet another left-wing party, said the Social Democrats’ proposal was “totally unrealistic,” while stressing that they did not oppose accommodating refugees in North Africa as such.
“We will never find an African country that will take on this task for us,” Social Liberal leader Morten Østergaard told BT.
The green-leaning Alternative party waved off the proposal of “transferring the burden to a North African country” and “saying no to people that come to Denmark” as unrealistic and inhumane. At the same time, Alternative immigration spokesperson Josephine Fock threw her weight behind the part of the proposal, which would raise the amount of aid money to developing countries.
However, the proposal resonated well with the right-of-center Danish parties, currently in power.
“I wish we could create such a system with a snap of a finger. Unfortunately, the situation in many North African countries is so unstable that it would not be possible to build such camps,” ruling Liberal Party immigration spokesman Marcus Knuth told the Information daily. “And the more stable countries would not think about saying yes to this even in their wildest dreams,” Knuth added.
Anti-immigration Danish People’s Party immigration spokesperson said the Social Democrats would deserve a “group hug” if they were to act up to their proposal, which, its immigration spokesperson Martin Henriksen argued, was perfectly in line with international conventions.
The Social Democrats governed Denmark for most of the 20th century, with only a few intermissions. They continued to win the popular vote in the 00s (with a few exceptions), yet were often pushed into opposition due to the right-of-center parties forming a majority. In the 2015 election, the Social Democrats once again became Denmark’s largest party with over 26 percent of the vote.
The year 2017 saw the lowest figure of asylum seekers in Denmark over the past decade, just under 3,500, the Immigration Ministry reported.