Socialist People's Party (Denmark)

Socialist People's Party
Socialistisk Folkeparti
Abbreviation SF
Leader Pia Olsen Dyhr
Founded 15 February 1959
Split from Communist Party of Denmark
Headquarters Christiansborg
1240 Copenhagen K
Ideology Eco-socialism
Political position Left-wing[1][2][3][4][5]
European affiliation European Green Party
International affiliation Global Greens
European Parliament group The Greens–European Free Alliance
Colours Red, Green
7 / 179
European Parliament
1 / 13
10 / 205
116 / 2,444
Election symbol

The Socialist People's Party (Danish: Socialistisk Folkeparti, SF) is a green[8] and democratic socialist[8] political party in Denmark.



The SF was founded on 15 February 1959 by Aksel Larsen, a former leader of the Communist Party of Denmark (DKP) and CIA agent.[9] Larsen was removed from the ranks of the DKP for his criticism over the Soviet intervention in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Larsen and the new SF sought to form a third way between Denmark's United States-oriented social democracy and Soviet Union–oriented communism, which sought to combine democracy with socialism. He was joined by a large share of the members of the DKP. They all supported the idea of independence from the Soviet Union.[10]

In the 1960 elections the party entered the Folketing with eleven seats. The DKP lost all of its six seats. In the 1964 elections the party lost one seat. During the 1960s the SF became involved in the peace movement and the movements which opposed nuclear weapons and nuclear power. It sought to "walk on two legs", by combining its parliamentary work with involvement in grass roots movements.

In the 1966 elections the Social Democrats and the SF won a combined majority in parliament, in which the SF doubled its amount of seats from 10 to 20. A Social Democrat minority government was formed, which was supported by the SF. The cooperation lasted only one year, but lead to considerable conflict within the SF: in 1967 the Left Socialists (VS) broke away from the SF. In the subsequent 1968 elections the SF lost nine seats and the VS entered parliament with four. In 1969 the party chairperson Larsen stood down, he was replaced by Sigurd Ømann.


In the 1971 elections the party regained ground on the VS, gaining six seats, while the VS left the Folketing. In 1972 the party led the referendum campaign against Denmark's entry into the European Economic Community. The Danish voters voted in favour of the European by a narrow margin. Because of its opposition to the EEC however boosted the SF's membership and support. In the subsequent 1973 "landslide" elections, the SF lost six seats (reducing the party's share to 11), and the DKP re-entered the Folketing with six seats. In 1974 Ømann stood down as party chairperson in favour of Gert Petersen. In the 1975 elections the SF lost two seats and the VS re-entered the Folketing as well. In 1977 the party reached an all-time low with only seven seats. During the 1970s the SF began to change its program and electoral appeal. Where it had been a male-domined workers' party it became broader left-wing political party that was oriented towards new voters and new social movements. It became more focused on the environment and gender politics.

In 1979 the party won four seats as the DKP lost its six seats. In the 1981 elections the party almost doubled from eleven to twenty-one. In the 1984 elections it remained stable. In the 1986 referendum on the Single European Act the SF campaigned together with the Social Democrats and the Social Liberal Party against the European Community. The SEA was adopted by a narrow margin. In the subsequent 1987 it reached its all-time peak with twenty seven seats. In 1988 it lost three seats and in 1990 it lost another nine, leaving only fifteen. In 1991 the party leader Petersen stood down in favour of Holger K. Nielsen. Between 1982 and 1993 a centre-right government led by Poul Schlüter formed by the Conservatives, the Liberals and allies was in power even though the Social Democrats, SF and the Social Liberals formed a majority in parliament. This, combined with its links with the peace and environmental movement gave the SF the power to force alternative security and environmental policies.


In 1991 Petersen stood down as party chairperson, he was replaced by Holger K. Nielsen, who was – compared to the other candidate Steen Gade – closer to the party's socialist past.

In the 1992 referendum on the treaty of Maastricht the SF campaigned for the "no"-vote. The Danish people voted against the referendum. In 1993 the SF formed a historic compromise with the other parties in the Folketing. It accepted the concessions made to the Danes in the Edinburgh Agreement and to the SF in the National Compromise. Therefore, it campaigned to vote "yes" in the second referendum. Just before the referendum in 1991 the SF's party congress had adopted a new program of action and principles, "Mod Nye Tider (Towards New Times)", which departed from the old anti-EU line. As a group in the SF became more positive of the EU, the SF became increasingly divided on the issue.

In 1994 it lost another two seats and the Red-Green Alliance an alliance which included the DKP and the VS entered parliament with six seats. In the 1998 elections the party remained stable. During the 1998 referendum on the Treaty of Amsterdam it led the No-camp again, unsuccessfully. Between 1993 and 2001 the SF supported a Social Democrat/Social Liberal minority government led by Poul Nyrup Rasmussen.

In the 2000 referendum on the euro, the SF was able to convince the voters to vote "no".

In opposition 2001–2011

In the 2001 elections the party lost one seat and after Liberal Party, the Conservative People's Party and the Danish People's Party gained a majority SF lost almost all political influence in parliament. There were some local bright spots with great support to SF mayors in Vejle, Them, Nakskov, Kalundborg and Maribo caused by charismatic candidates.

In 2004 the party's sole MEP again decided to sit with The Greens–European Free Alliance group instead of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left, leading to considerable internal conflict. The party has since then come around to her point of view, and in 2008 it was decided that future SF MEPs should sit in the Green Group, though SF still remains only an observer in the European Green Party and not a full member.

In the 2005 elections SF gained the worst election result since 1979 and lost yet another seat in parliament. On election night Holger K. Nielsen stepped down as party chairman in favour of a new chair. When Holger K. Nielsen announced that he would step down as chairman three candidates for the post came forth: Pia Olsen, Meta Fuglsang and Villy Søvndal. At an at times chaotic process on the party congress resulted in the decision to hold a ballot among the party members to decide who should be chairman. Søvndal, running on a platform of moving the party further to the political left won the ballot with 60% of the vote.

The election of Søvndal brought major changes to the party. Greater emphasis was placed on professionalism, the use of focus groups and a change in electoral strategy. The number of key issues was reduced to three to better penetrate in the media with fewer slogans.

In a 2006 internal referendum 66% of the SF-members declared that the party should participate in the "yes"-camp in a referendum on the European Constitution, a historic break from its Eurosceptic past.

In the 2007 election SF more than doubled its seats in parliament and became the fourth-largest party with increased support across the country. In itself this did not bring about any major change in political influence since the centre-right was able to maintain its majority. However the increase in votes and members of parliament brought optimism and new resources to the party. The media had also discovered Søvndal's ability to make an impact and gave him the opportunity to use that in many cases. The number of party members also greatly increased during this period.

At the 2006 party congress Søvndal took exception to anti-democratic groups, mostly Hizb-ut-Tahrir using unusually harsh language. He repeated these statements on his blog in 2008 which led to great attention to the party and some internal criticism. Right-wing politicians praised Søvndal's statements and rhetoric which caused insecurity in some parts of the party who felt they were being embraced by some of SF's main political opponents on the right wing. The polls during these months showed a constant rise in support for the party which combined with a decline in support for the Social Democrats showed an almost equal support to the two parties. For the first time ever some polls showed greater support for SF than for the Social Democrats. In the spring of 2008 this however changed so that SF got 16% in the polls and the Social Democrats 23%.

In 2008 SF voted in favour for the national budget for 2009. This was the first time the SF had voted in favour of a national budget by the Fogh cabinet. This was widely regarded as an attempt to disprove the frequent accusations of SF not being "economically responsible".

In government 2011–2014

Before the 2011 election SF announced that its goal was to be part of a cabinet consisting of SF, the Social Democrats and the Social Liberal Party. While the Social Democrats were positive to the idea the Social Liberals were initially more sceptical, due to differences in economic policies. This became a reality with the formation cabinet of Helle Thorning-Schmidt: for the first time SF was part of a cabinet, with six cabinet ministers. In September 2012 Villy Søvndal announced that he was stepping down as leader of the party. After a protracted election for the party chair Annette Vilhelmsen was elected party chairwoman with 66% of the constituency, against the 34% achieved by her competitor Astrid Krag. Since Krag had the backing of most of the party leadership, Vilhelmsen's election was widely interpreted as a display of dissatisfaction with the leadership's approach to participating in government.

Vilhelmsen never managed to provide stable leadership for the party however. In January 2014, the party left the coalition government over a dispute involving the sale of shares in a state-owned energy company to Goldman Sachs, stating that they would instead provide confidence and supply. Vilhelmsen and a considerable part of the party leadership subsequently resigned.

Ideology and issues

SF's ideological base is popular socialism, inspired by green politics and democratic socialism. The party sees a democratic-socialist Denmark as the end goal of its politics. The party is a strong supporter of human rights, the rights of minorities and democracy.

An important issue dividing the party is the European Union. Historically the party was highly Eurosceptic. However, during the 1990s, when the EU began to implement policies oriented at regional development, environmental protection and social protection, the SF became more positive about the EU. Currently, this issue is still dividing the party internally.

Other important issues for the SF are globalization based on solidarity. To that extent, it seeks to reform the World Trade Organization, as well as environmental protection, and support feminism.

International comparison

The SF is a Nordic Green Left party like the Swedish Left Party, the Norwegian Socialist Left Party, the Finnish Left Alliance and the Icelandic Left-Green Movement. These were also influenced by feminism and green politics in the 1970s and 1980s. Similar parties in Western Europe were French Unified Socialist Party and the Dutch Pacifist Socialist Party.

Relationships to other parties

The SF has good relationships with the Social Liberal Party and the Social Democrats who, in the past, have cooperated in minority governments supported from the outside by the SF, as is the current situation.

International organizations

SF is a member of the Nordic Green Left Alliance and the European Greens. Between 1979 and 1989 its MEPs sat in the Communist and Allies Group. Between 1989 and 1994 its sole MEP was member of the European United Left parliamentary group. Between 1994 and 1999 its sole MEP sat in the Green Group. Between 1999 and 2004 its sole MEP sat in the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group. After 2004 election, SF's sole MEP, Margrete Auken, controversially chose to sit in The Greens-European Free Alliance group.


The SF has a strong grassroots organization: all members can participate in the party congresses but only delegates have voting rights. In May 2010 the party had 17,883 members. Its youth organization is the Youth of the Socialist People's Party. The linked Socialist Popular Education Organisation organises a yearly political summer meeting for members and non-members in Livø.

Election results


Election Votes Percentage Seats Seats (Denmark proper)
1960149.440 6,1 %
11 / 179
11 / 175
1964151.697 5,8 %
10 / 179
10 / 175
1966304.437 10,9 %
20 / 179
20 / 175
1968174.553 6,1 %
11 / 179
11 / 175
1971262.756 9,1 %
17 / 179
17 / 175
1973183.522 6,0 %
11 / 179
11 / 175
1975150.963 5,0 %
9 / 179
9 / 175
1977120.357 3,9 %
7 / 179
7 / 175
1979187.284 5,9 %
11 / 179
11 / 175
1981353.373 11,3 %
21 / 179
21 / 175
1984387.122 11,5 %
21 / 179
21 / 175
1988490.176 14,6 %
27 / 179
27 / 175
1990433.261 13,0 %
24 / 179
24 / 175
1994268.759 8,3 %
15 / 179
15 / 175
1998242.398 7,3 %
13 / 179
13 / 175
1998257.406 7,6 %
13 / 179
13 / 175
2001219.842 6,4 %
12 / 179
12 / 175
2005201.047 6,0 %
11 / 179
11 / 175
2007450.975 13,0 %
23 / 179
23 / 175
2011326.082 9,2 %
16 / 179
16 / 175
2015148.027 4,2 %
7 / 179
7 / 175
Source: Folketingets Oplysning


Party Chairperson

The chairman of the SF has always been its party leader, which can't be taken for granted in Danish party politics.[11]

Members of the Folketing

In the 2011 election, the SF fell from 23 to 16 seats in the Folketing, of which 4 have left the party.[12]

Members of the European Parliament

The SF has always been represented in the European Parliament. It gained one seat in 1979, 1984 (one additional seat on 1 January 1985), 1989 and 2004. Since 2004 the elected candidate was Margrete Auken. Without the approval of the party's board she joined The Greens–European Free Alliance parliamentary group instead of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left in 2004. Since then, the party has come around to her point of view and at the national congress in 2008, it was decided that future SF MEPs will stay in the Greens–EFA group in the European Parliament, but SF will only join the European Green Party as an observer and not as a member. In the 2009 European elections the party increased its share of votes to 15,6% and got an additional seat which went to Emilie Turunen, who became a member of the Social Democrats in March 2013.

Municipal and regional government

Currently the party has approximately 236 elected representatives in local town councils and 21 representatives in Denmark's fourteen regional councils. During the 1990s the party gained its first mayors

Former Members of the Folketing



Elected in 2011 and left the party

See also


  1. Åsa Bengtsson; Kasper Hansen; Ólafur Þ Harõarson; Hanne Marthe Narud; Henrik Oscarsson (2013). The Nordic Voter: Myths of Exceptionalism. ECPR Press. p. 204. ISBN 9781907301506.
  2. "The Socialist People’s Party of Denmark (Socialistisk Folkeparti)". Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy.
  3. "Socialist People’s Party". Britannica.
  4. Laursen, Finn (2003). Wolfgang Wessels; Andreas Maurer; Jürgen Mittag, eds. Denmark: In pursuit of influence and legitimacy. Fifteen Into One?: The European Union and Its Member States. p. 93.
  5. "Danish socialist party to leave government over DONG/Goldman Sachs dispute". Euronews. 30/01/14.
  6. "AKVA3: Valg til regions råd efter område, parti og stemmer/kandidater/køn". Statistics Denmark. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  7. "VALGK3: Valg til kommunale råd efter område, parti og stemmer/kandidater/køn". Statistics Denmark. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  8. 1 2 Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck
  9. "Denmark During the Cold War: Highlights of the DIIS report". Danish Institute for International Studies. 30 June 2005.
  10. Thomas Ekman Jørgensen (2011). Martin Klimke et. al., ed. National Ways to Socialism? (PDF). Between Prague Spring and French May. New York and Oxford: Berghahn. pp. 51–52. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  11. Lars Bille: Partier i forandring. En analyse af danske partiorganisationers udvikling 1960-1995, Odense 1997, ISBN 87-7838-314-5, p. 379
  12. SF's Folketingsmedlemmer
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/20/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.