Tuesday

18th May 2021

Extremists pose challenge to Danish democracy

  • The programme features 2590 different events during the four festival-days 11-14 June (Photo: Berit Hvassum)

Far-right European politicians, Golden Dawn from Greece and Geert Wilders from the Netherlands, are attending a festival (Folkemodet) on the Danish island of Bornholm on 11-14 June.

The open-air political festival features prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt as a main speaker as well as most of the government, opposition party leaders, business representatives, trade unions, media and cultural celebrities.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The festival traditionally has a very informal style and offers a rare chance for politicians to meet ordinary citizens (Photo: Berit Hvassum)

Folkemodet is a Danish counterpart to the famous Swedish Almedalveckan, which each year draws up to thousands of visitors to the Swedish island of Gotland.

It has a very informal style and offers a rare chance for politicians to meet ordinary citizens in an unstaged setting.

As many as 100,000 participants are expected to attend the Baltic sea island Bornholm event but this year's first-ever attendence by far-right politicians will prove a challenge to Denmark's tradition of openness and freedom of speech.

The presence of Wilders – who has received scores of death threats over the years for his anti-Islamic views – will also mean a large security upgrade at the popular festival.

The press freedom organisation, Trykkefrihedsselskabet, invited Wilders to speak.

Georgios Epitideios, a former general and Golden Dawn member of the European Parliament, has also confirmed his participation. Golden Dawn, from Greece, is considered to be a neo-Nazi party.

Epitideios was invited by ’The Danes’ party’, a small ultra-right party, which has no elected representatives at the national or local level.

"We have chosen to debate, among other things, what we want in Europe. And it is natural to invite a party that is really big," head of the party, Daniel Carlsen, told Berlingske Tidende.

The news has already caused several politicians to cancel their participation.

"There will be so many police on the island that it will spoil the whole mood, and it will ruin my experience," Liberal member of the Zealand Regional Council, Claus Bakke said.

Veteran Liberal politician and former MEP Bertel Haarder took another approach, urging even more Danes to attend the Bornholm event. But he also questioned the wisdom of inviting Golden Dawn and others.

Other defended the decision.

"Isn't freedom of expression relevant to 'Folkemodet'? Yes, of course it is. Wilders has a relevant history and some relevant positions. He has done nothing wrong, but he holds opinions that the terrorists do not like, "said Katrine Winkel Holm, chairman of Trykkefrihedsselskabet and a frequent commentator at Jyllands-Posten.

Jylland-Posten’s editor Flemming Rose, who has also received death threats following the newspaper’s Mohammad Cartoons in 2005, is also among the participants in the festival.

Opinion

The story behind Golden Dawn's success

If the Greek government is truly looking for answers to Golden Dawn's success, it should look to its own anti-immigrant policies.

Europe shocked by Copenhagen terror attack

Similar to the Charlie Hebdo terror in Paris, freedom of expression was the first target in Copenhagen followed by an attack on a Jewish community.

Chemnitz neo-Nazis pose questions for Germany

UN human rights commissioner urged EU leaders to condemn violence that recalled the 1930s, but the local situation in former East Germany does not apply to the whole country.

News in Brief

  1. Schäuble: Germany must protect Jews from antisemitism
  2. French row on far-right EU fraud gets ugly
  3. UK: Indian variant to become dominant strain within days
  4. More than 5,000 migrants breach fortress Spain in Morocco
  5. Scientists question Sputnik V results in The Lancet
  6. UK asks EU for more time on Northern Ireland border
  7. EU Commission appoints first ever anti-racism coordinator
  8. Frontex: Irregular border crossings 'on rise'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. What does EU want for Kosovo visa-free travel?
  2. EU and US reach steel truce in effort to reset relations
  3. EU unveils roadmap to green maritime activities
  4. We Palestinians are looking to the EU to uphold our rights
  5. EU criticises Israeli bombing of Gaza Strip media office
  6. First aid for Polish democracy
  7. 40 years of AIDS is more than enough
  8. EU impunity for Israel creating 'horror' in Gaza

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us