The Danish No to the Euro – a Victory for the Working Class and the People

The referendum about Danish adoption of the Euro and removal of the national currency, the krone, ended in a resounding victory for the No. It was a No to the dissolution of Denmark as an independent currency nation – a major symbol of one of the constituting factors of a nation.

And it was a definite No also to closer integration into the European Union and its course towards a supranational state in whatever form, a No to any kind of “United States of Europe”.

With 53.1 pct. voting No and 46.9 pct. voting yes and a record-like turnout of 87 percent of all voters, this was an even more clear-cut decision than the No to the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.

The Danish bourgeoisie and its social supporters almost to a man recommended a Yes-vote. The social democratic led coalition government and the official opposition of the main conservative and liberal parties led a co-ordinated campaign in favour of a yes. The state propaganda was in favour of a yes. The employers’ organisations and the entire social democratic leadership of the trade unions (with the exception of a few minor trade unions) carried out a co-ordinated campaign for the Euro. The Yes-side controlled the mass media and spent millions of kroner (five times as much as the No-side) on advertisements and propaganda for a Yes.

The Yes-campaign was a horrendous mix of threats, promises, false “guaranties”, insults and intimidations of the No-side. They threatened that the Danes in case of a No would lose their home, work and bread!

In spite of this the result was an overwhelming No, reflecting the true interests of the Danish working class and people. Being the project of big capital, of monopoly capital, to advance profits and create a new imperialist European superpower, competing with the USA, less than one third of the population, with the working class as its core, has any objective interest in this project. On the contrary: “United Europe” is against the interests of the workers and the people. In the period of Danish membership, which has included adaptation of the convergence demands of the Maastricht Treaty, the Danes have seen a growth in mass unemployment, privatisation of great parts of the public sector, reduced social welfare and constant attacks on the hard-won rights of the workers. Schools, educational centres, kindergartens and health services have been cut back to a lower standard. The so-called Nordic welfare-model has been changed beyond recognition.

The EU sanctions against Austria, that showed the interference in the autonomy of a sovereign nation, also assisted the NO-campaign in a small country like Denmark that has always fought the domination of greater neighbouring powers like Germany, the main force in the Union of the monopolies. Of big importance for the strong NO were also the crises of the Euro, the demonstration of the weakness of this currency and its factual devaluation.

This is speeding up the process of building the Union State and stimulates so-called reforms to harmonise social legislation, finances, taxes, labour market and so on. In advance the Danes voted against the upcoming Nice-treaty, that is going to remove the unanimity principal in favour of majority decisions, and the expected “reforms”.

The referendum confirmed all the existing Danish “exceptions” (of which non-participation in the Euro and the third phase of the Economic Monetary Union was one) to the Maastricht Treaty, including the not joining of the “European army”, that is going to be ready in 2003. Had the rulers won this election, there would have been held a new referendum in a short time to remove the three other exceptions.

Pursuing their own class interests the bourgeois media presents the result of the referendum as a victory of the Right, and as a nationalist and chauvinist No. This is a major distortion. All the parties to the left of Social Democracy, including small revisionist parties, have constant advocated a No. The small so-called Christian Peoples’ Party, a small party of the “Centre”, which had a couple of ministers in the previous bourgeois government of Poul Schlüter, which preceded the present government of Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, also advocated a No. The populist right-wing party Danish Peoples’ Party with less than ten percent of the voters was presented as the leading advocate of a No, which is a total falsification. In the political sense, a great range of forces represents the No, covering the entire political spectrum. Among the major political forces are the two Danish No-movements – the Peoples’ Movement against the European Union (created as a broad social and political front organisation already before Danish entry into EU in 1972) and the June Movement, which are represented in the European parliament with 25 percent of the Danish votes, but not running for representation in the Danish parliament. They are supported by the Danish left and a great percentage of those voters that oppose the pro-Union stands of their parties. It is a fact that more than half of the social democratic voters voted against the massive recommendation of a yes by the party and its leadership. The NO-movements rallied support behind the slogan: “Hold på kronen – Nej til Unionen”, rhyming in Danish: “Uphold the krone, No to the Union!”

The No, then, was the voice of the majority of the Danish workers, and of the popular social forces. A No from the working people in the cities and the countryside. Only in a few rich areas there were a majority of Yes-votes. All the big cities, the peninsula Jutland, traditional yes-territory, and the islands, Zealand with Copenhagen, and Funen with Odense, voted No.

The APK campaigned for a NO with the slogans: “If the workers vote No, Denmark shall vote No!” and “Stop the monopolies, the bureaucrats and the EU-politicians!”.

In fact the latter – the rulers – got a slap in the face by the people. Their unionist policies have been rejected. This is an important victory for the people in one battle – but the struggle around Danish membership of the European Union is far from finished. The krone is still closely tied to the Euro. The aim of the consistent opposition to the EU is to remove all ties to the Union, getting Denmark out of it.

Copenhagen, September 29, 2000

Workers’ Communist Party of Denmark (APK)