The Danish political system is a parliamentary tapestry of parties, the differences between them not always being readily apparent to the non-Dane. In the interest of comprehension, I will here present a brief overview of the most significant political parties in Denmark.
1. Parties in the Folketing
The Folketing, the Danish parliament, consists of 179 members. This includes 2 members from Greenland and 2 from the Faeroe Islands. The 175 members elected in Denmark proper are nearly always elected on the party tickets of the ten-twelve dominant parties. The composition of the political spectrum has varied during the Folketing's existence (meaning, for the past century and a half), and what follows is the composition after the February 8, 2005 election.
In Danish elections, each party is represented by a letter, as a mnemonic aid for voters. The list is arranged alphabetically according to these letters.
- A: Socialdemokraterne (formerly: Socialdemokratiet)
(Social Democratic Party)
One of the oldest and most traditional of the Danish parties, the Social Democrats were founded in the 19th century, and have been a dominant force in Danish politics for over a century. The last three elections have been rather disastrous for them, however, and they're down to 47 seats in the Folketing.
- B: Radikale Venstre
(Radical Liberal Party)
A moderate, humanist party, founded when Venstre split in two in the 1880s, the Radical Liberal Party is most famous for always being the "middleman", the "power behind the throne" of any political constellation in Denmark. Because of their strategic dominance in the middle of the spectrum, they are in a position to influence whichever party is in power. Currently, they are not in the government, but they had a good election, and their 17 seats in the Folketing are as significant as ever.
- C: Konservative Folkeparti
(Conservative People's Party)
With 18 seats in the Folketing, the Conservative Party has joined the government of Venstre's Anders Fogh Rasmussen as a junior partner.
- F: Socialistisk Folkeparti
(Socialist People's Party)
Founded as a breakaway from the Danish Communist Party (which has since disbanded, though numerous spinoffs exist), the Socialist People's Party is very much the party of the moderate left wing. Seldom in government themselves, SF is often a supporting party for Social Democratic governments. Currently at 11 mandates, a slight decrease.
- O: Dansk Folkeparti
(Danish People's Party)
Founded as a breakaway of the Progress Party (see section 2, below), the Danish People's Party has been enjoying consistently growing election results over the 1990s, culminating in a current influential position, with 24 seats in the Folketing at the last election. The party's political platform revolves heavily around dislike for immigrants and refugees, and a stated purpose of "sending them back where they came from".
- V: Venstre - Danmarks liberale parti
Originally the party of the agrarian population, Venstre has changed its style radically over the last twenty years, becoming the party of the urban right wing, and appealing strongly to the younger voters. At the November 2001 election, Venstre gained a landslide 56 seats in the Folketing, and formed a government with the Conservative Party, but the latest election saw them slipping down to 52 seats.
- Ø: Enhedslisten
Formed in the 1980s as an amalgam of several left wing parties and the Green Party, Enhedslisten represents the anarchist/environmentalist left wing in Danish politics. 6 seats in the current Folketing.
2. Other significant parties
This list comprises parties not currently in the Folketing, but with a reasonable chance of regaining representation there, or with long-term voter appeal in municipal elections.
- D: Centrumdemokraterne
(Central Democratic Party)
A spin-off party from the Social Democratic Party, CD represented the middle class socialists - but have gradually moved to a more right wing position. At the last-but-one election, they failed to achieve seats in the Folketing, but they remain a significant force in local politics.
- Q: Kristdemokraterne (formerly: Kristeligt Folkeparti)
(Christian Democrat Party)
Always a small party, the moderate Christian Democrat Party was represented in the last Folketing with 4 seats, but fell below the minimum and is not currently represented.
3. Has-been or wannabe parties
- E: Retsforbundet
With a name literally meaning "The Justice League", Retsforbundet builds on the political theories of Henry George, who believed that all taxation should be property tax, and nothing else. They haven't been in the Folketing for decades, but continue to do well in local elections.
- M: Minoritetspartiet
A small party hoping to ride into the Folketing sooner or later, on a wave of popular support fuelled by disgust at the openly discriminatory politics engendered by Dank Folkeparti and their ilk. As idealistic as this sounds, they are unlikely to be a significant force in Danish politics, whether in the long or the short term.
- Z: Fremskridtspartiet
Of all the Danish parties, the "Progress Party" is probably the most openly discriminatory towards immigrants and particularly towards Muslims. Founded by the highly idiosyncratic (to put it gently) Mogens Glistrup, the party was originally voted into the Folketing in a landslide election in 1973. Supplanted by the breakaway Danish People's Party, however, they lost voters and did not manage to achieve representation at the last election.
This is not a complete list. I could mention the regional Schleswig Party, or the many local parties that participate in municipal elections and nowehere else - but I think I'll leave it at this, to keep the big picture.
BTW, arranged according to their position in the left-right spectrum, the eight parties currently (or recently) in the Folketing would be:
Ø - F - A - B - (D) - Q - V - C - O - (Z)
Arranged according to the more useful two-dimensional Political Compass system, agraph of the party political alignment looks like this:
A | C
Classic | Classic
Left <---------F---------------|--------------------------> Right
Wing | Wing
Ø | Z
Unsurprisingly, all the parties below the line dividing Authoritarian from Anti-authoritarian are against Danish membership in the European Union, and the ones above the line are in favour. The Socialist People's Party ("F") which is shown on the line, is of two minds on the subject, but tends to favour the anti-EU stance. Though the Christian People's Party ("Q") has stated that it is neutral on the EU, it is obvious from past political actions that they are merely being coy - and are in fact pro-EU.