In my last post (here), I wrote about the new immigration rules in Denmark, and how they are keeping almost every foreigner from getting a permanent residence permission ““ even those who are married to Danes. So, how does the public react to it?
I have been talking with many of the Danes I know about the new rules. I openly criticized them on Facebook (even though I usually keep politics away from there) and generally did not hide that I am upset and angry. And I got a very clear response from friends, colleagues and others: They do not support the new rules. One of my good friends put it this way: “This is horrible. I am embarrassed to be Danish right now. Our government is embarrassing.” And not one single person even tried to defend it the “Yes-it’s-bad-but”¦”-way. Even the people who usually have some questionable opinions about immigrants and immigration are clearly against the new rules.
And it is not just the people I know. According to a recent poll, the majority of Danes are against them (in Danish here). This is also clearly illustrated at other polls about the current voting situation. Three recent polls have shown, if the election would happen now, that the government and the Danish People’s Party would lose their majority.
The media has been focusing on the new rules for weeks now. All the bigger papers keep publishing rather critical stories. For example, the situation about the PhD, who is married to a Dane, who has been paying around DKK 300,000 ($54,000) every year for six years in taxes ““ and when he applied for permanent residence permission, he did not get it. The reason? He is not on the board of some club outside his work. You can read that story here. Then there are the many stories about families that will move abroad, because the foreign spouse would not ever get a permanent residence permission in Denmark (this is in Danish). Also new? The critique does not only come from the left-wing papers. The critique is everywhere. Even the nightmare that is Ekstra Bladet (basically the Danish version of The Sun) has a long list of critical articles.
It certainly is possible that this broad public critique is based on the fact that this time, the new rules also affect the Danes. The government is all of a sudden trying to get involved with a very personal decision ““ whom to spend their life with and where. And even though the Danish population is used to their government knowing a lot about them and being quite involved, it seems that the politicians have crossed the line.
So, what is going to happen now? According to the Danish system, the government has to announce the date for the next election within the next year. They will obviously try to choose a date that gives them the most advantage (they will probably announce it as soon as the SocDem screw something up). But I really hope that the Danes remember that this government has gone too far now. That this government is in no way a representative of the openness with which most Danes like to describe themselves. This government has to go.