Radikale Venstre

Radikale Venstre. Radikale Venstre, literally translates as ‘the Radical Left’, though the party is usually translated into English as the ‘Social Liberal Party’ or the Radicals.

As the name suggests the Radicals emerged as a splinter from Venstre in 1905. The party was a splinter from Venstre’s anti-militarist and more left-leaning wing.

The party is a social liberal party, broadly considered to be either centrist or centre-left.

The party mixes Denmark’s most liberal views on immigration, multiculturalism and social attitudes with broadly centrist economic policies. It is heavily in favour of globalisation.

The Radicals may seem familiar to non-Danish readers as the obvious inspiration for Birgitte Nyborg’s Moderates party in the TV show Borgen (the other parties in the show also have clear real world analogues, for instance the Labour Party are a clear analogue of the Social Democrats, and the Freedom Party is a clear People’s Party analogue).

Traditionally the Radicals were a part of a small constellation of centrist parties with the Christian Democrats and the Centre Democrats who would form issue by issue shifting coalitions in the Danish parliament to pass and reject legislation. Doing this allowed the Radicals to gain power beyond their proportion of their vote. The party has historically tended to shift between support of left-wing and right-wing governments but since 2001 has been thrust into the Red Bloc following the destruction of the Christian Democrats and the Centre Democrats leaving them the sole centrist party, and the new ability of Venstre and the Conservatives to rely on the People’s Party for government support.

As the most pro-immigration party, the Radicals have also drifted into the Red Bloc in opposition to the former centre-right government’s stringent anti-immigration laws. Nonetheless the party was happy to negotiate with the centre-right government on economically liberal moves such the abolition of an early retirement programme for blue-collar workers. While the Radicals urban intelligentsia electoral base is very socially liberal and environmentalist they are less fond of high taxes and big social programmes.

The Radicals were one of the big winners of the 2011 election, almost doubling their seats from 9 to 17. As such their leader, Margrethe Vestager, became Deputy Prime Minister and Economic and Interior Affairs Minister. Following the departure of the Socialist People’s Party from the government, the Social Liberals are the sole remaining junior coalition partner to the Social Democrats.

Unlike the other government parties the Radicals have not lost much support since 2011, with the party, with the government’s modernising reformist credentials and social liberalism a broad match for the party.

The party was suffering from party infighting around the time of the 2009 European election and therefore had a poor election and lost its single MEP. The party now has much more support and can probably expect to win back a MEP. It is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.