Denmark Leads the West to Immigration Sanity

Denmark Leads the West to Immigration Sanity

Denmark’s example can inspire but it does not smooth the path forward.

In other words, Denmark’s happy evolution resulted not from national character nor from profound historical developments but from the randomness of personality and moment. That in turn implies the near-impossibility of predicting which Western country might follow Denmark to immigration sanity.

Can Denmark Make An Impact?

Observers widely recognize that the Danes broke new ground on immigration. Political analyst Kristian Madsen saw the 2019 elections as “a laboratory for what the center-left [in Europe] can be.” Analyst Jamie Dettmer noted that Frederiksen’s victory “prompted a debate among fellow European left-wing parties: Should they, too, adopt anti-migrant rhetoric, imitate their Danish counterparts and campaign for stricter immigration rules?” Frederiksen herself offered Denmark’s tough-on-immigration approach to other Social Democratic parties. “For years,” she admonished them, social democrats “have underestimated the challenges of mass immigration. … We have failed when it comes to maintaining the social contract, which is the very foundation of the Social-Democratic social model.”

But there has not been much response. On their own, Austria’s leftists made small moves in this direction when Christian Kern, its Social Democratic chancellor in 2016-17, tightened immigration rules. Sweden’s Social Democrats talked vaguely of pushing harder for immigrants to integrate, with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson arguing “We don’t want a Somalitown … we want Swedish to be the natural language throughout Sweden.”

In the end, then, it will not be so much the Danish model that brings sense to Europe but autonomous developments in each country. Denmark’s example can inspire but it does not smooth the path forward.

Daniel Pipes (, @DanielPipes) is the president of the Middle East Forum.

Image: Reuters.