Denmark in the 1980’s and 1990’s

Denmark in the 1980's

The political instability that characterized the Denmark since the war, with the constant recourse to early elections and the frequent formation of minority governments, remained a fundamental feature of the life of the country in the 1980s and 1990s, characterized by a heated debate on issues. concerning the process of European integration and a difficult economic situation (the progressive decrease in the rate of inflation and the public deficit did not correspond, in particular, to a significant decrease in unemployment). It was with these closely intertwined problems that both center-right governments (in 1982, for the first time since 1894, a conservative, P. Schlüter, had become prime minister) and center-left governments had to contend.

In office since December 1990, the new government chaired by Schlüter, which included representatives of his party and liberals, found itself facing the difficulties arising from the non-ratification, in the popular referendum of June 1992, of the treaty that had established the Union Europea, signed in Maastricht in February of the same year. Only after further negotiations with the European partners did it come in December 1992, the exemption of the Denmark from some clauses of the treaty, in particular with regard to the adoption of a single currency, participation in common policies in the field of defense and cooperation between the police forces of the various countries. The Maastricht Treaty was thus approved by a new referendum which took place in May 1993 (the yeas went from 49, 3 % the previous consultation to 56, 7 %), a few months after an important change of government. In January 1993, in fact, Schlüter had been forced to resign following the accusation of having covered up in front of the parliament, as head of the government, in 1989, the so-called Tamilgate scandal: questioned on the measures adopted in 1987 by the then Minister of Justice E. Ninn-Hansen (who, in violation of Danish immigration legislation, had refused entry into Denmark to the families of Tamil workers from the Srī Laṅkā and residents of the country), Schlüter had denied any wrongdoing for himself and for the minister. After his resignation, a new government was formed by the Social Democrat PN Rasmussen, who gave birth to a coalition comprising Social Democrats, Radicals, Christian People’s and the Democratic Center.

According to Top-engineering-schools, the commitment of the center-left executive weighed in the approval of the referendum in May, but did not change the attitude of a substantial part of the population, also demonstrated by the elections for the European Parliament held in June 1994: the Popular Movement against the The European Union and the June Movement, which made the anti-European prejudice their almost exclusive feature, together obtained more than 25 % of the votes. A few months later, in September, political consultations recorded a decline in the government coalition, especially the Social Democrats, it dropped from 37, 4 % of the votes obtained in 1990 to 34, 6% and from 69 to 62 seats (only the radicals went from 7 to 8 seats, while the Democratic Center dropped from 9 to 5 and the popular Christians did not get any deputies, not having reached the minimum electoral quotient of 2 % of the votes to access the Folketing). The Conservatives and the People’s Socialist Party remained essentially stable, with respectively 15 % and 7, 3 % of the votes and with 27 and 13 deputies; to increase its consensus (by 15, 8 % to23, 3 % of the votes and from 29 to 42 seats) was instead the Liberal Party, which presented itself in the elections with a program that included, among other things, a further restriction of public spending and a decisive reduction in the tax burden.

In September 1994 the outgoing prime minister, Rasmussen, however, formed a minority government comprising Social Democrats, Radicals and the Democratic Center, which set as its priority objectives the containment of inflation and the reduction of the public deficit, in order to respect the convergence criteria. for participation in the Economic and Monetary Union. In 1995 the economic situation recorded an increase in investments, which was accompanied, however, by a sharp slowdown in consumption and a drop in exports; the increase in early retirements allowed to reduce the unemployment rate (from 12, 2 % in 1994 to 9, 3% of the following year), but employment continued to decline in the industrial sector. In December 1996, the Democratic Center left the coalition following the support of the left parties, popular socialists and the united List grouping, obtained by Rasmussen on the occasion of the approval of the budget law for 1997. The majority that came to be established in this circumstance was confirmed by the early political elections of March 1998, after which Prime Minister Rasmussen gave life to a new executive.

The Social Democrats got 36 % of the votes and 63 seats, while 13 seats, with 7.5 % of the vote, went to the People’s Socialist Party. In the center-right camp the best results were those achieved by the Liberal Party, with 24 % of the votes and 42 seats, and by the Conservatives, who obtained 8.9 % of the votes and 16 seats.

In late April, for the first time since 1985, the country was virtually paralyzed by a large-scale general strike involving industrial and transport workers, who the previous month rejected the draft contract agreement negotiated by the union and by the organization of entrepreneurs, considering the proposed two-year salary increases and the number of weeks of paid annual leave to be insufficient. Faced with the extension and continuation of the strike, in early May the Rasmussen government mediated between the social partners and regulated the dispute by law. A considerable weight in this choice was the concern for the outcome of the imminent referendum on the treaty signed in Amsterdam, in June 1997, from the countries of the European Union (a stability and growth pact that supplemented the Maastricht agreements). On May 28, 1998, 55.1 % of the voters declared themselves in favor of the Treaty of Amsterdam, for the approval of which, in particular, the government and the Social Democratic Party had committed themselves.

Denmark in the 1980's