Radikal identitetskrise

Lasse Peter Laursen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master thesis concerns the Danish Social Liberal Party Radikale Venstre. In 2005 at the national election, this 104-year-old party had an enormous success. Since then the party has solidly lost support and now receives very bad quotes in the opinion polls. Why is that? This master thesis points towards the fact that the very conditions for succeeding in Danish politics changed significantly back in 2001, when the election of a new Danish government imposed serious consequences on Radikale Venstre. Armed with French discourse analysis and German systems theory, this master thesis runs thoroughly through 3,600 pages of debate books, articles, contemporary diagnoses and four of the most prominent political commentators are being interviewed. The present master thesis finds that the current conditions for achieving success depend on the following factors: A political party must have a contract policy, it needs a great individual case that frames the politics of the party, it must be strong in value-based policy such as judicial, immigration and refugee policy, and, finally, Danish politics need personification through a front figure who symbolizes the party’s politics and identifies with it. The political projects in Denmark that have been successful throughout the last ten years fulfil all the criteria listed above. After an identification and clarification of the conditions to succeed in Danish politics, the thesis studies how Radikale Venstre is relating to these new conditions. It examines the party’s view and finds that Radikale Venstre is discordant as far as the party members view on these new conditions are concerned – should the party obey the new conditions, or should it reject them as being bad and incorrect? The interviews with the party’s parliamentarian representatives reveal that this is the point that they among themselves are in complete disagreement about. It is this very disagreement in Radikale Venstre that shows to have become a general and common element in the party. The room for disagreement is an important factor in the party as it is the only political party in Denmark who has no agreement to expel members that can possibly harm the party. The party’s culture is one of particular freedom. Radikale Venstre has, as the only party, a homepage for debate, where internal affairs within the party are being discussed openly online. The party’s political leader does not even take offence at the most critical voices and attacks on the party line, uttered by radical members of the parliament, but leaves room for everybody to express themselves. This openness and freedom among the members of the Radikale Venstre, has created a problem for the party. There is a disagreement about the requirements for success as well as what it actually is that Radikale Venstre should be. This problem has caused confusion among the voters. The conditions in modern politics have changed and are today all about contract policy, great individual cases, value-based policy and personification. The voters want to know, what they can be guaranteed and in order to be in the elector’s awareness a political party must be identified with an individual case, have a clear and solid value-based policy and a charismatic and distinct person in front. Radikale Venstre is lacking all these factors at the moment. The instrument that holds a political party together and constitutes its identity is power. In the present situation the power is drifting around in Radikale Venstre. Due to the fact of internal disagreement, the party’s ability to determine its direction has proven hard even though direction as such is the crucial element for the success of a political party. Without a direction, the electors do not know what kind of political product they get by voting for Radikale Venstre. Altogether, this master thesis has come up with a contemporary diagnosis of the conditions to succeed in modern Danish politics and exemplifies why Radikale Venstre have had so little success in recent years.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2009
Number of pages99