Just over a year ago Denmark was cheering on a new political party that aimed for nothing less than revolutionising the state of political affairs. New Alliance was founded with lofty goals of doing politics in a new way, minimising the influence from the ultra-right-wing Danish People’s Party, and having a truly liberal and global outlook. On top of that rode Denmark’s new political darling, Naser Khader, a Syrian-born Muslim with secular and democratic ideals who for many demonstrated a fresh breath of air to decades of trench wars on immigration policy.
In the end, however, the ideals were all they could deliver. The early grassroots approach to policy yielded no detailed or coherent vision, and the party became mostly an uneven melting pot of wannabes. In last year’s general election they managed to secure five seats in the parliament, but status quo endured and the sitting centre-right government could continue unaltered into a third term. Two of the five quickly left, one to become independent, the other to join one of the ruling parties. And this week, a third was forced to withdraw from the party, also becoming an independent for the time being. From such highly lauded beginnings last summer, they are now down to two, with no chance in a million of retaining their parliament seats.
What went wrong? Apparently the catch-all approach backfired, and trying to fathom everybody eventually meant reaching no one. There never was more than a vision; no strategy, no planning, no organisation to back it up. Naser Khader’s personality was what started it all, but also what brought it down. In politics, seemingly, ideals can only get you thus far, after that skills are needed. Skills which it became clear in the election campaign that Khader did not possess, after all.
I think the vision had lots of merit. But from there it was pretty much downhill when the vision turned out to be backed by nothing but hot air. In the lyrics for the musical Evita, Tim Rice put it eloquently like this: “You let down your people, Evita. You were supposed to have been immortal. That’s all they wanted. Not much to ask for. But in the end, you could not deliver.”