Communist Party of Denmark

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Communist Party of Denmark
Leader Henrik Stamer Hedin
Founded 9 November 1919[1][2]
Headquarters Frederikssundsvej 64, 2400 Copenhagen NV
Newspaper Arbejderbladet (English: The Worker's Paper, 1922-1941)
Land og Folk (English: Land and People, 1941-1990)
Skub (English: Push, 2001-)
Youth wing Communist Youth of Denmark (1919-1990)
Young Communist League (Denmark)
Membership 1919: approx. 2,000
1945: approx. 60,000
1960: approx. 5,000[3]
2009: approx. 300
Ideology Communism,
Marxism-Leninism
International affiliation Comintern (1920-1943),
International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties
European affiliation None
Colours Red
Website
http://www.dkp.dk/
Politics of Denmark
Political parties
Elections

The Communist Party of Denmark (Danish: Danmarks Kommunistiske Parti, DKP) is a communist political party in Denmark. DKP was founded on November 9, 1919 as the Left-Socialist Party of Denmark (Danish: Danmarks Venstresocialistiske Parti, VSP) through a merger of the Socialist Youth League and Socialist Labour Party of Denmark, both of which had broken away from the Social Democrats in March 1918.[1][2] The party assumed its present name in November 1920, when it joined the Comintern.[1] Currently, the DKP is represented in the Danish parliament through the Red-Green Alliance.

History[edit]

Background and establishment[edit]

Marie-Sophie Nielsen led the breakaway faction from the Social Democrats in 1918 that founded the Socialist Labour Party of Denmark, due to an accumulation of conflicts with the reformist leadership of the Social Democrats.[4] In particular, they opposed cooperation with the Radical Liberal Party, with whom the Social Democrats allied themselves in general elections.[4] The Socialist Labour Party of Denmark began laying the foundations for a new party in March 1918, soon after its establishment.[4]

In 1919, the party cooperated with the syndicalist movement, primarily organized in the Trade Union Opposition Coalition (Danish: Fagoppositionens Sammenslutning, FS) and the Socialist Youth League, a left-wing Social Democratic breakaway group from the Social Democratic Youth (the youth wing of the Social Democrats), to found the Left-Socialist Party of Denmark on November 9, 1919.[1][4]

The party participated in the 2nd Comintern Congress in 1920.[1][4] The party approved the admission requirements, and changed its name to the Communist Party of Denmark and joined the Comintern the same year.[1][4] This, however, led to a split within the party, with the syndicalist faction, led by FS, withdrawing the party.[4]

Following a rapprochement between the two groups, and with the approval of the USSR, the DKP and FS formed a joint federation in 1921, known as the Communist Federation (Danish: Kommunistisk Føderation).[4] However, the cooperation would be short lived. The federation split in 1922 following an attempted coup of the party's leadership, and for the next 18 months Denmark would have two parties calling themselves the Communist Party of Denmark (although only one was recognized by the Comintern.)[4] The two parties were successfully merged once more in 1923, but inter-factional conflicts would continue for another 20 years.[1][4]

DKP election poster

For the initial period following the party's reunification, DKP's leadership consisted of the left-wing social democrats which had formerly belonged to the Socialist Labour Party of Denmark and the Socialist Youth League.[4] During this period, the party made little electoral or popular advancement, declining from 0.5% of the vote in 1924, to 0.4% in 1926, and 0.3% in 1929.

In 1929, the Comintern intervened, by means of an open letter to the party, forcing the removal of DKP's leadership.[4] For the next 18 months, the party was placed under the direct administration of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.[4] The new leadership that was appointed consisted of pro-Soviet hardliners, with Aksel Larsen becoming the new Chairman of the Central Committee.[4][5]

This intervention resulted in DKP making an 'ultra-left turn.'[4] This was characterized strategically by a designation of Social Democrats as the primary enemy of communism, with the party adopting anti-Social Democratic rhetoric, including accusing the Social Democrats of being social fascist. Concurrently, the Great Depression was reaching its peak in Denmark, allowing DKP to channel rising economic dissatisfaction.[4] Particularly, the party grew in popularity amongst the unemployed.[4] The party also grew in popularity amongst students and intellectuals for its anti-fascist activities.[4]

In the 1932 elections, DKP achieved parliamentary representation for the first time, obtaining 1.1% of the vote and 2 seats. This increased to 1.9% of the vote in 1935, and 2.4% in 1939. The 1930s was a period of constant advancement for the party.[4]

Banning by German occupation authorities[edit]

Land og Folk from 1945

On 9 April 1940 Germany invaded Denmark. For the first 14 months of German occupation, DKP was allowed to continue operating legally. Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, however, the party was outlawed.[1][4] More than 300 communists were interned.[4] A national unity government was formed by the other major parties, which cooperated with the Germans, including in the outlawing of DKP.[4]

Resistance against German occupation[edit]

DKP continued to operate underground, and was a leading force of the Danish resistance.[1][4] Members of DKP sat on the Danish Freedom Council, the largest underground resistance force against the German occupation.[1] Following the collapse of the national unity government on 29 August 1943, the DKP, along with other non-socialist resistance forces, became the informal government of the country.[4][6]

The Social Democrats experienced a rapid decline in influence during this period, remaining outside of the resistance movement for the entirety of the occupation.[4] The party was weakened to the point that several failed attempts were made to merge it into DKP.[4][7]

Post-war legalization[edit]

1945 DKP election programme 'Will of the People - the Law of the Country'

After the liberation of Denmark, on 5 May, 1945, the first Communist Minister was inducted into the new liberation government, when Alfred Jensen was made Minister for Traffic. Aksel Larsen was also made a Minister without portfolio. The government was roughly evenly split between members of the old national unity government, and members of the Danish Freedom Council and other resistance groups.

In the first post-liberation Folketing election DKP massively increased its votes to obtain 12.5% of the vote (255,236 votes) and 18 seats, although it was not inducted into the new post-election Venstre-led government. The party was the primary force against Denmark's participation in NATO in the late 1940s.[1] While the party was unsuccessful in that effort, the movement successfully forced the Danish government to refuse permission to place NATO air fields in Denmark.[1]

Cold War era[edit]

Officially, the DKP's political line did not conflict with that of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, but pre-war factional tensions continued in the party in the post-war period.[1] Factional tensions peaked with the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian revolution of 1956, which caused a massive backlash against the party in Denmark,[8] and sparked a split in the party.[8][9]

Party Chairman Aksel Larson had been the leader of the revisionist camp in the party from 1956 onwards,[1] but suffered a rout at the Twentieth Congress of the DKP in 1958.[1] Larson was expelled for his statements against Soviet involvement in the Hungarian revolution, and formed a new party, the Socialist People's Party (SF), which advocated socialism independent of the Soviet Union.[9] Larson was replaced by Knud Jespersen, a hardline pro-Soviet communist, positioning DKP as a staunch supporter of the Soviet Union.[10]

In the first post-split Folketing election, the Communist Party lost parliamentary representation for the first time since the liberation of Denmark, collapsing to 1.1% of the vote. The Socialist People's Party achieved 6.1% of the vote and 11 seats.

The party achieved a resurgence following the Twenty-fourth Congress of the DKP in 1973, which focused on demanding Denmark's withdrawal from NATO and the EC.[1] On the back of rising disaffection with the EC and increased popularity amongst student movements, DKP regained parliamentary representation in 1973 election, achieving 3.6% of the vote and 6 seats.

After the fall of the Socialist Bloc[edit]

DKP fell out of parliament once again in the 1979 Folketing election, and suffered several high-profile defections in the waning years of the Soviet Union, including from party Chairman Ole Sohn, who was expelled in 1991 and later join the Socialist People's Party.

In 1989, DKP joined with two other left-wing parties, the Left Socialists, and the troskyist Socialist Workers Party to form the broad-based Unity List – The Red-Green Alliance (Danish: Enhedslisten – De Rød-Grønne). Gert Petersen, then-Chairman of SF claimed at the time that cooperation between such diffuse ideological currents would fail.[11][12] Instead, the Unity List achieved parliamentary representation in the 1994 Folketing election, winning 6 seats, 2 of which were held by DKP. This was the first time the party was in parliament since 1979. The Unity List has been represented continually in parliament since.

Organization[edit]

Press[edit]

The party's newspaper Arbejderbladet (English: The Worker's Paper) had a circulation of approximately 6,000 in the early 1920s, but this dropped to around 4,000 by the late 1920s.[4] Circulation began to climb again starting in the 1930s, rising to 7,000 in 1935 and 12,000 by 1940.[4] Beginning in 1933, the party published a theoretical periodical called Kommunistisk Tidsskrift (English: Communist Periodical), which was renamed Tiden (English: TIme) from 1936 onwards.[4]

During the German occupation of Denmark, the party began publishing a clandestine newspaper called Politiske Maanedsbreve (English: Political Monthly Letters), which was soon renamed Land of Folk (English: Land and People).[4] It was one of the most widely circulated underground papers in the country,[4] and continued as the main press organ of the DKP until 1990. In addition, the DKP published a large number of local papers.[4]

Party Chairpersons[edit]

Name Period Notes
Ernst Christiansen 1919-1926
Sigvald Hellberg 1926-1927
Thøger Thøgersen 1927-1931
Aksel Larsen 1932-1958
Ib Nørlund 1941-1945 When the party was outlawed during the German occupation of Denmark, Aksel Larsen was arrested. Party secretariat Ib Nørlund temporarily became leader during this period.
Knud Jespersen 1958-1977
Jørgen Jensen 1977-1987
Ole Sohn 1987-1991
Collective Leadership 1991-2003
Henrik Stamer Hedin 2003-

Famous members[edit]

Popular support and electoral results[edit]

Folketing (parliament)[edit]

Folketing
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
±
1920 (April) 3,859 0.4[a]
0 / 139
1920 (July) Did not contest
1920 (September) 5,160 0.4[a]
0 / 148
Steady0
1924 6,219 0.5
0 / 148
Steady0
1926 5,678 0.4
0 / 148
Steady0
1929 3,656 0.2
0 / 148
Steady0
1932 17,179 1.1
2 / 148
Increase2
1935 27,135 1.9
2 / 148
Steady0
1939 40,893 2.4
3 / 148
Increase1
1943 Illegal
1945 255,236 12.5
18 / 148
Increase15
1947 141,094 6.8
9 / 148
Decrease9
1950 94,523 4.6
7 / 149
Decrease2
1953 (April) 98,940 4.8
7 / 149
Steady0
1953 (September) 93,824 4.3
8 / 175
New constitution
1957 72,315 3.1
6 / 175
Decrease2
1960 27,298 1.1
0 / 175
Decrease6
1964 32,390 1.2
0 / 175
Steady0
1966 21,553 0.8
0 / 175
Steady0
1968 29,706 1.0
0 / 175
Steady0
1971 39,564 1.4
0 / 175
Steady0
1973 110,715 3.6
6 / 175
Increase6
1975 127,837 4.2
7 / 175
Increase1
1977 114,022 3.7
7 / 175
Steady0
1979 58,901 1.9
0 / 175
Decrease7
1981 34,625 1.1
0 / 175
Steady0
1984 23,085 0.7
0 / 175
Steady0
1987 28,974 0.9
0 / 175
Steady0
1988 27,439 0.8
0 / 175
Steady0
1990 Participated through Unity List
1994 Participated through Unity List
1998 Participated through Unity List
2001 Participated through Unity List
2005 Participated through Unity List
2007 Participated through Unity List
2011 Participated through Unity List

Notes:

  1. ^ a b As the Left-Socialist Party of Denmark.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "The Great Soviet Encyclopedia: Communist Party of Denmark". USSR. 1979. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Aksel Larsen, Taler og artikler gennem 20 år (Copenhagen, 1953).
  3. ^ Benjamin, Roger W.; Kautsky, John H.. Communism and Economic Development, in The American Political Science Review, Vol. 62, No. 1. (Mar., 1968), pp. 122.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af Thing, Morten (1990). "Communist Party of Denmark and Comintern 1919-1943". Roskilde University. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  5. ^ Kurt Jacobsen, Moskva som medspiller, DKP's gennembrud og Aksel Larsens vej til Folketinget (Copenhagen, 1987)
  6. ^ Ole Borgå, "DKP's enheds- og folkefrontspolitik 1940-45", Historievidenskab, 12 (1977), pp. 67-127
  7. ^ Mogens Nielsen, Socialdemokratiet og enheden i arbejderbevægelsen 1933-45 (Copenhagen 1978).
  8. ^ a b Childs, D (2000) The Two Red Flags: European Social Democracy and Soviet Communism since 1945, p53
  9. ^ a b Lansford, T (2012) Political Handbook of the World 2012, p388
  10. ^ Skou, Kaare R. Dansk politik A-Å: leksikon. [Kbh.]: Aschehoug, 2007, pp. 370–371.
  11. ^ DKP fik ikke gjort op med stalinister, Ole Dall, Berlingske Tidende, 19. april 1990, s. 10
  12. ^ Camilla Plum Venstrefløjen passé, Terkel Svensson, Berlingske Tidende, 20. marts 1990, s. 3

Literature[edit]

Ib Nørlund: Det knager i samfundets fuger og bånd, Rids af dansk arbejderbevægelses udvikling, 1959, 3rd edition 1972
Knud Holt Nielsen: Giv mig de rene og ranke... Danmarks Kommunistiske Ungdom 1960-1990, udgivet af SFAH 2009

External links[edit]