German government defends Danish minority

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Mar 11 16:59:22 UTC 2005

Forwarded from

German government defends Danish minority
Brussel / Bruxelles 3/5/2005 , by Brigitte Alfter

Garbage sent by post to Danish minority politicians. The Danish flag being
spat upon. Germans threatening to boycott Denmark as a holiday country.
These were just some of the popular reactions against the Danish minority
in Germany recently, according to the Danish daily Information. Since a
written death threat, the leader of the Danish party, Anke Spoorendonk,
has been followed by two police appointed bodyguards.

A barrage of verbal attacks have also been launched against the
Danish-Frisian minority party in Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost
province of Germany. The minority commissioner of the German federal
government, Hans-Peter Kemper, has now called upon opponents to stop
discrimination against the minority party, the SSW.

The electorate of the SSW are Germans with all rights and duties. Those,
who criticise their vote, only damage the succesful minority policies of
German governments for the past 50 years. The German Constitutional court
only recently confirmed the SSWs exemption from the five percent minimums
clause. Thus the critics also show a questionable understanding of the
constition and democracy, Kemper says, and describes the conservative and
liberal party as bad losers of the election.

The election, held on February 20th , left the Kiel-Parliament with two
groupings almost equal in size, with the current red-green government
coalition on one side, and the liberal-conservative opposition on the
other. The Danish minority party lost slightly, dropping from 4.1 percent
of the votes to 3.6, however, with its two seats in the parliament, it now
holds a key position in the appointment of a new government that is
expected to be formed on March 17th.

The comments by various politicians within the opposition are an
embarrassing attempt to discredit the national minorities of the Danes and
the Frisians. This has sparked off hostilities to the point of xenophobia,
Kemper stated.

Before supporting a government, the SSW has a number of requests according
to its political agenda and recent campaign, among them a reform of the
school system. Also, the SSW prefers to support a minority government
rather than joining a coalition on either side. However, as negotiations
with the liberal-conservative block collapsed, verbal attacks increased
further, with firm opposition to, amongst other things, school reforms.

It is hard to understand for those in Schleswig-Holstein, why the vote of
an SSW-constituent should be more valuable than one from a
non-SSW-constituent, wrote the conservative German daily, Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung, in a comment. It continued: this is not a minority
party but a privileged party, closely connected to Denmark.

In contrast the centrist daily, Sddeutsche Zeitung, commented: It is a
strange understanding of democracy, only to tolerate the MPs of the Danish
party as long as they do not make politics. To threaten the SSW with
taking away its privileges in case it interferes in politics does not mean
anything but: Shut up or leave!

The political discord comes soon after a decision of the German Federal
Constitutional Court confirming the electoral law of the province of
Schleswig-Holstein, which gives certain privileges to parties representing
the Danish minority.

Later in March, the 50th anniversary of the mutual Copenhagen-Bonn
declarations of Germany and Denmark, safeguarding each others minorities,
will be celebrated. It could turn into a rather sad anniversary, comments
Sddeutsche Zeitung. (Eurolang  2005)

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list