A campaign featuring PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt touting her party’s harder line on immigration debuted on Sunday, anchored by a poster saying “If you come to Denmark, you need to work.”
The other poster in the campaign highlights the party’s “strict asylum rules and more requirements of immigrants”.
The new campaign was launched just days after Thorning-Schmidt presented a new integration proposal – Denmark’s 22nd such plan since 1999 – aimed at getting 30,000 additional immigrants and refugees into the national workforce.
The Thorning-Schmidt campaign led to strong immediate reactions from both sides of the political spectrum.
The anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DF), whose voters political commentators say the PM is courting with the campaign, called the campaign disingenuous.
“If they succeed in convincing the voters that this government has implemented a strict immigration policy, then I think that their press people and spin doctors deserve a considerable raise. They will have earned it,” DF spokesman Martin Henriksen said in a press release.
Primary opposition party Venstre called the posters “deception” and “comical”.
“It is a completely false picture of the policies that the Social Democrats have carried out,” said Venstre’s Inger Støjberg, who has become one of the loudest anti-immigration voices in Denmark.
The Social Democrats’ campaign was also attacked from the left.
“It’s unfortunate that one chooses to prioritize one’s resources and campaign budget to join the competition between DF and Venstre over who can be the hardest and strictest towards people who are on the run,” Pelle Dragsted from the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) told TV2.
The campaign also made immediate waves on the other side of the Øresund, where it was branded “racist” by the Swedish Left Party (Vänsterpartiet).
Malmövänstern svarar S på andra sidan Sundet pic.twitter.com/BrVp6vpddD
— Christina Höj Larsen (@ChristinaHoej) March 22, 2015
The party’s Malmö division quickly responded to Thorning-Schmidt’s posters with one of their own. In the response ad, Left Party politician Jallow Momodou stands next to the words “If you come to Malmö, you are welcome.”
“We look on with concern at the political development on the other side of the Sound, where the Danish Social Democrats have launched a racist initiative. Integration is a social issue and not something to blame on individuals. Malmö’s solidarity remains open to all,” the Swedish ad reads.