Denmark: We Are Not The Socialist Utopia Bernie Sanders Thinks We Are

Juli Hansen / Shutterstock.com

In the first Democratic primary debate, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders spoke of their fondness for Denmark.

Sanders, in particular, suggested that the US could adopt a socialist system by emulating Scandinavia. “I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people,” said the US presidential candidate, who identifies himself as a “democratic socialist.”

But Danish prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, speaking at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government this week, says Sanders got more than a few things wrong.

“I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”

Rasmussen added he had no problem with Denmark being upheld as a political ideal—“it’s definitely not a perfect country, but it is close to it perhaps,” he said. The Danish Prime Minister listed some of the virtues of Denmark’s expanded welfare state, including free health care, unemployment benefits, one year of maternity leave, and a free education system.

As Quartz reported during the Democratic debate, Sanders’ admiration for Denmark’s left-leaning policies is a little outdated: Rasmussen was elected as part of a center-right coalition, with the right-wing, anti-immigration Danish People’s Party becoming the second-largest party in parliament.

And some of the confusion may stem from the definition of socialism in the first place: Technically, a socialist state as set out by Vladimir Lenin is one where the government owns all means of production, which is certainly not the case in the Nordic countries. But in general parlance it has come to be used as a shorthand for a market economy fused with a comprehensive and generous welfare state.

(Image via Juli Hansen / Shutterstock.com )

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.