Danish immigration discourse 101

Author: Hajer Hadi

Whether you’re living in Denmark or not, you’ve probably heard about Danish immigration politics and their “paradigm shift” which essentially moves from integration to repatriation. This closing of borders is not exclusive to Denmark- but it’s hard to ignore how the Danish discourse bleeds into all aspects of what an accepting society constitutes, here and globally.

While the general xenophobic policies are abhorrent, have severe mental health consequences, and infringe on human rights, it’s important to understand which parties take what stances on immigration.

The 2019 Danish general election

When it comes to election campaigns, it’s all about getting people hyped and generating heated debates. The Danish general election takes place on June 5th 2019, and one of the most topical debates is around immigrants and refugees; and how different parties want to tighten or loosen their policies. We published an article in December 2018 showing how existing policies are impacting people confined in an asylum centre near Copenhagen. These policies not only have direct effects on the physical and mental health of immigrants (via incarceration practices and access to healthcare), but also influence the international cooperation vital for healthcare and disease prevention.

Whether you can or cannot vote in Denmark, let’s take a look at a summary of the Danish political parties’ positions on refugees and immigrants.

A – Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterne)

Social Democrats are on the left-of-centre and are the largest party in the parliament. In recent years, their relationship with the other centre-left parties has unraveled and they’ve moved far to the right on immigration policies. They want immigrants and asylum seeker to get in jobs as soon as possible and states that the government has tightened the possibilities of receiving asylum for the first time in 12 years. The Social Democrats have done so by introducing temporary residence permits for asylum-seekers who are judged not to be individually persecuted in their country of origin.

V – Liberal Party/Venstre (Venstre)

Liberal Party is a conservative-liberal party, and are confusingly placed in the right (“venstre” means “left” in Danish). They want to slow down the influx of asylum seekers and will lower the support for refugees and immigrants who are not in work. The party wants to make it more difficult to obtain permanent residence and at the same time, they will sort out immigrants by nationality, making it easier for people from countries that rank on the UN list of developed countries to come to Denmark, while it must be harder for people who come from countries that are not on the list of developed countries. Inger Støjberg (Minister of Immigration and Integration) has become infamous for increasingly tightening immigration policies.

B – Danish Social Liberal Party (Radikale Venstre)

Danish Social Liberal Party are on the centrist and more lenient on immigrant laws. They have stated that refugees and immigrants should not be treated more harshly than Danes. They also want to make it possible for refugees and asylum seekers to live and work outside the asylum centers. Although they will not treat refugees and immigrants differently from Danes, the party states that the immigration policy is about “focusing on a particular group and giving them the tools that allow them to get in jobs asap.”

Ø – Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten)

Red-green Alliance is the furthest left-wing party and wants to ease the Danish asylum policies. The party is working to ensure that Denmark accommodates more refugees, and that it will be easier for refugees and immigrants to obtain Danish citizenship. Their primary issues are the welfare state, improving the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers and climate change laws.

Å – The Alternative (Alternativet)

The Alternative is a green political party and wants a sustainable integration for newcomers in Denmark. The overall purpose of the Alternative’s integration policy is to strengthen social sustainability through an integration policy that creates the basis for a new “we”. Their integration policy, for the same reason, revives the principle that integration is a two-way process. They are putting the climate crisis in front and the centre, and suggested putting a carbon tax on meat and air travel.

O – Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti)

The Danish People’s Party is placed in the far right – always emphasizing on Danish traditions and heritage of culture and national security. They have a strong anti-immigration policies and Islamophobic characteristics and they also stand against the EU and integration. Since the beginning they want to push the nation toward a much stricter immigration legislation. The Party wants to tighten the Danish immigration policy even more and limit the number of Muslims coming to Denmark.  They say they will ensure that Danish jobs are occupied by Danes, and therefore companies must in the future document that they cannot get jobs filled by Danes before they go out and look for labor outside the EU.

According to party members, their greatest accomplishment has been the “paradigm shift”, which was passed earlier this year – in which refugee and asylum policies will now focus more on sending refugees to their home countries rather than integrating them into the society.

lil merrmie.jpg
Even the little Mermaid is confused. Photo from Pixabay.

I – Liberal Alliance (Liberal Alliance)

Liberal Alliance is placed in the center-right and wants to tighten the asylum area and immigration laws, but will open the Danish labor market for immigrants who would like to contribute to the Danish society. The party writes in their immigration mission that they want to abolish social benefits for immigrants and let them pay out of pocket to go to the doctor or to hospital for the first few years they are in the country. Only refugees who are directly or personally persecuted in their country of origin must be able to obtain asylum in Denmark.

C – Conservative People’s Party (Det Konservative Folkeparti)

Conservative People’s party is a right-of-centre party, and wish to pursue a “tight and responsible immigration and integration policy”, as stated in their website. The party wants to sort out immigrants and asylum seekers based on what abilities they have and how willing they are to contribute to and become part of the Danish society. Those who do not want this or who break the law must be sent out of the country immediately. Conservative People’s party emphasizes Danish culture and tradition and supports tougher crime penalties and increasing the number of police officers on the streets.

K – Christian Democrats (Kristen Demokraterne)

They argue that Denmark must help people in need. Everyone who receives a residence permit in Denmark must, as a rule, have the same rights as the nationals of the country. Integration of immigrants and refugees must be given high priority and asylum seekers must have access to the Danish labor market as soon as they have applied for asylum. Denmark’s integration policy must ensure that the individual refugee is integrated into Danish social norms and the traditions of the community.

F – Socialist People’s Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti)

The Socialist People’s Party is a left-wing party and states that they don’t distinguish between people on the basis of skin color and religion, but emphasizes that the party demands active participation in the Danish society. The party wants education to have a greater role in the integration of immigrants and to reduce the number of vulnerable residential areas (so-called “ghettos”).

According to Voxmeter’s political opinion poll, the following two immigrant-critical parties are not yet in the Danish Parliament, but might get four seats each by the end of this election.

D – The New Right (Nye borgerlige)

The New Right is a far-right-wing political party founded in 2015 by Pernille Vermund. In 2016 they announced that they had gathered the 20.109 signatures required to run for the general election.

Their politics are on the far end and very extreme. They want Denmark to withdraw from the 1951 UN refugee convention and to deport all immigrants who have a temporary residence.

P – Hard Line (Stram Kurs)

Hard Line is a far-right political party founded in 2017 by lawyer Rasmus Paludan. The party is almost exclusively associated with its founder and his blatant Islamophobia– he wants to ban Islam in Denmark and deport all Muslim immigrants from the country.

danish imm 101-1
1-10 scale of Danish poltical parties’ position on immigration. Created by Hajer Hadi.

Feeling unsettled by the above discourse?


Consider donating to Trampoline House, a community centre for asylum seekers, refugees, and citizens. They actively work towards a society that supports an asylum and integration system where everyone is free to work, live, and participate in.


Reversing the “paradigm shift” is possible through supporting organizations like Trampoline House.


  1.  https://www.avisen.dk/fakta-nye-borgerlige-og-stram-kurs-staar-til-at-komm_553661.aspx
  2. https://www.thelocal.dk/20190513/the-2019-danish-general-election-what-you-should-know-about-the-parties-on-the-left
  3. https://www.thelocal.dk/20190510/the-locals-guide-to-denmarks-election-parties-part-one-the-right
  4. https://politiken.dk/indland/politik/folketingsvalg2015/art5579281/F%C3%A5-overblik-i-udl%C3%A6ndingedebatten-Det-mener-partierne

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