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Danish right-wingers recruit controversial candidates, as country gets ready for elections

Danish right-wingers recruit controversial candidates, as country gets ready for elections
The rise of the right-wing in Europe may be a tired cliche at this point. However, a new Danish party has courted fresh controversy for hiring some distinctly un-PC candidates, as the country goes to the polls next month.

Stram Kurs (Hard Line) will run for election for the first time in June. The party pushes a combined message of small-government libertarianism and “ethnonationalist utilitarianism.” The latter translates as a ban on Islam, an immediate withdrawal from refugee conventions, and the deportation of all asylum seekers and any “non-western persons.”

The party also favors a crackdown on Danes who “help alien enemies undermine Denmark,” presumably charities and NGOs. Hungary’s Viktor Orban spearheaded a similar crackdown with his ‘Stop Soros Act’ last year.

Party leader Rasmus Paludan has drawn attention to himself with a number of high-profile stunts, like leading protest marches through Muslim ghettos, burning copies of the Koran, and encouraging his followers to draw pictures of the prophet Mohammed. Prime Minister Lars Løkke Ramussen has condemned Paludan’s publicity stunts as “meaningless provocations.”

Although anti-immigration and nationalist parties have gained ground in nearly 20 European countries since the beginning of the refugee crisis in 2015, no mainstream organizations have dared call themselves “ethnonationalist.” Perhaps the closest mainstream analog to Stram Kurs is Dutch firebrand Geert Wilders’ Partij voor Vrijheid (Party for Freedom or PVV).

Like Stram Kurs, the PVV’s policies focus almost entirely on the “de-Islamization” of the Netherlands, coupled with a smattering of small-government and tax-cutting initiatives. Like Wilders, Paludan has faced legal consequences for his speech, having been handed a 14-day jail sentence in April for alleged racism towards a spokeswoman for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Unlike Stram Kurs, the PVV has been a viable opposition party in the Dutch parliament for over a decade, and is currently the second-largest party in the Netherlands. Stram Kurs, meanwhile, is polling at just over two percent, beating only the country’s Christian Democrats and businessman Klaus Riskær Pedersen’s self-titled party.

Controversial candidates

Still, the party has punched above its weight when it comes to grabbing newspaper headlines. On Wednesday, Paludan announced that 81-year-old professor Helmuth Nyborg will stand for election with Stram Kurs. Paludan said that Nyborg is “an internationally highly respected researcher” on IQ and cognitive ability. Opponents say Nyborg’s opinions on racial IQ differences are abhorrent.

“It goes without saying that if many people come to Denmark from countries where the inhabitants have a lower intelligence quotient, then over time we get a lower average intelligence quotient,” he told the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in 2010.

Nyborg’s views and scientific background lend weight to an argument Paludan has made since he entered politics in 2017.

“The average in IQ in Somalians is much lower than in us,” Paludan told Ekstra Bladet last year. “It does not make them subordinates that on average they have poorer brains than Danes. There is just a difference between races – and there is no need to lie about it. There are many from Africa who do not understand very much because their IQ is 80.”

Nyborg’s views are controversial, and the professor is currently facing academic discipline for a 2013 paper setting out those views entitled ‘The Decay of Western Civilization’. However, African and Middle Eastern countries have been ranked at the bottom of IQ tables, and some researchers have pinned the difference on race and genetics, albeit under intense criticism.

A willing public?

How receptive is Denmark to an open ethnonationalist party that embraces controversial figures like Professor Nyborg? The answer is probably somewhat.

Unlike its uber-liberal neighbor Sweden, Denmark has reacted to the influx of refugees and migrants with increasing hostility. The coalition government – made up of the center-right Venstre and further-right Danish People’s Party – has passed laws requiring refugees to hand over jewelry and valuables to finance their stay, banned the burqa in public, and planned to ship rejected asylum-seekers to an uninhabited island in the Baltic sea.

“If you are unwanted in Danish society, you should not be a nuisance to ordinary Danes,” Immigration Minister Inger Støjberg stated when announcing the island plan.

“They are undesirable in Denmark and they must feel it!”

Støjberg has been a key author of her government’s anti-immigration policies. In March 2018, she marked the passing of her 50th anti-immigration measure by celebrating with a cake decorated with fruit, the Danish flag, and the number ‘50’.

The government has also targeted settled immigrants, who it says often live in “parallel societies.” Last July, as part of a series of measures aimed at eradicating immigrant ghettos, the government announced tougher criminal penalties, lower benefits, and mandatory integration classes for those living in these neighborhoods.

Despite the anti-immigrant sentiment coming from the Danish government, voters are not so sure. The center-left Social Democrats are leading in the polls at 25 percent, compared to Venstre’s 20 percent and the Danish People’s Party’s 11.6 percent. The Social Democrats have begun to move further right on immigration, and as a result could have plenty of coalition-forming opportunities open with the center and center-right parties.

Also on rt.com Denmark to ship rejected migrants to remote island: Will of people or govt going far right? (DEBATE)

As long as Stram Kurs manage to capture more than two percent of the vote, the party looks set to enter parliament for the first time next month. In the runup to the election, the newcomers could push the existing right wing even further right – as nationalist party Vox did in Spain recently – or siphon the hardline vote away from the Danish People’s Party. Such a fragmentation of the right was also seen in Spain last month, and ultimately helped left-wing Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’ party consolidate its power in parliament.

Meanwhile, Paludan and Stram Kurs continue to grab column inches. The party also took on board as a candidate a prison guard who Paludan said can offer “professional knowledge of the consequences of immigration.”

As Paludan builds his anti-immigration dream team, next month’s elections will reveal whether the Danish electorate still wants to continue the country’s rightward shift. Asylum applications in Denmark dropped by 84 percent between 2015 and 2018, and without a cohort of immigrants to rail against, a return to centrism is not unlikely.

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