What do future citizens of Denmark think ‘Danish values’ are?

What is actually meant by 'Danish values'? We asked our readers in Denmark for their thoughts.

What do future citizens of Denmark think 'Danish values' are?
A Danish citizenship declaration. Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Foreign nationals applying to become Danish citizens could face interviews designed to test whether they have ‘Danish values’, as part of a new proposal by the main opposition party that has some backing from other parties.

The centre-right Liberal party, the largest currently in opposition, wants to introduce the measures, and other parties have expressed support for the idea, including the governing Social Democrats.

READ ALSO: Citizenship: Foreigners in Denmark could face interviews to test ‘Danish values’

Specifically, the Liberal party wants to add five questions to the existing citizenship test on ‘Danish values’ and is also calling for would-be nationals to write a cover letter with their citizenship application, explaining why they want to become Danish’

Further, a personal interview would seek to determine whether that person has ‘Danish values’. But these are not clearly defined.

We asked our readers to share their thoughts on whether they thought the plan was a fair one, and what they understand ‘Danish values’ to mean.

Just under two-thirds of the 55 people who contacted us said that applicants for citizenship should not be required to explicitly demonstrate an adherence to Danish values.

Forms response chart. Question title: Should applicants for citizenship have to demonstrate their acceptance of 'Danish values'?. Number of responses: 55 responses.

Half of those who answered our survey intend to apply for nationality in the country, while just under 20 percent are in the process of applying or have already been granted citizenship.

Forms response chart. Question title: Are you becoming a Danish citizen?. Number of responses: 55 responses.Interestingly, the readers who said they agreed with the concept of testing for Danish values had a range of reasons for doing so.

Amongst those who said Danish values should be demonstrated by applicants for citizenship was Nathan Tucker-Bloch, who said he plans to apply in the future.

“It is perfectly reasonable to expect those of us seeking to make Denmark our home to adhere to the principles and societal norms of the land. Danish citizenship directly implies a commitment to Danish values that is not expected of others to the same extent,” he wrote.

For Tucker-Bloch, Danish values are “the right to practice the religion of your choosing (or no religion) without pressure or undue influence.”

But no religious law should supersede Danish law, he added, echoing the comments of Liberal spokesperson for citizenship, Morten Dahlin.

“Men & women have equal rights in every sense. The rights of children are sacrosanct and protected by law,” Tucker-Bloch also wrote.

Eliza Szabó also plans to apply for Danish citizenship. She answered ‘yes’ to our initial question.

“Accepting equality should not be a problem if you apply to be a Danish citizen and Denmark should’t let opportunities open to reduce equality,” she wrote.

“At the same a state shouldn’t dictate any personal views if it doesn’t affect any communal laws. Tolerance works both ways,” she added.

Equality for women and tolerance are typical values in Denmark, she said.

Another of our readers offered a possible definition on what the national values might be.

“To my best of knowledge, the Danish constitution is what Danish values (entail), if not then what is?”, wrote Nana Sarfo, who is in the process of applying for citizenship.

Sarfo agrees that potential nationals should prove they possess those values.

Another reader who plans to seek nationalisation, Mehran, answered ‘no’ to the question of whether would-be Danes should have to prove their national mindset.

“‘Danish values’ is such a subjective term. There is not a consensus even among Danes,” he wrote.

“Besides, societies are dynamic, not a static form that nothing (can) ever change. Values change as the society changes and that happens all the time, hence introducing or abolishing laws based on different circumstances. Citizens should abide to laws not subjective values!”, he added.

Mehran told us he saw community spirit and transparency as the two most important, typical national values.

Anuprita Dagade has no plans to apply for citizenship and does not think applicants should have to prove their Danish values.

“It is not possible to judge if the person actually agrees with those values or just giving answers in an interview to get through,” she wrote.

“On other hand, for people who already accept and live with this value, it would add unnecessary pressure to prove it and also elongate the process with some inconvenience of facing interviews,” she pointed out.

Gender neutrality and trust are two typical Danish values for Dagade.

According to John Newport, who wants to apply in future, applicants for citizenship should not have to demonstrate Danish values.

“A country’s values aren’t set in stone… Who decides what they are? Also, they can include negative things. Denmark’s values, expressed by its politicians, seem to increasingly include xenophobia. Do foreigners wanting to become citizens have to share that too?,” he wrote.


Member comments

  1. There seems to be a problem within Denmark when it come’s to the message they are expressing. On one hand it’s came we want you to join us. But on the other it is very xenophobic. Yes would be citizen need too prove themselves but there is a thing as a bridge to far. A lot of things are amazing and world class here but there is a lot of racism and discrimination on all fronts of Danish society that no one wants to speak about. It really becomes a question of is the price of admission worth it.

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Six useful products I discovered in Denmark

Denmark is well known for its tradition for high quality design, but which products make a difference to everyday life?

Six useful products I discovered in Denmark

Inbuilt bike locks 

There’s no need to carry around a heavy and impractical chain to lock up your bicycle in Denmark, as these all come fitted (or you can cheaply add) an inbuilt lock on the frame of the bike.

The lock is the form of a circular bar which is released by a key and goes between the spokes of the back wheel, meaning it can’t be turned when the lock is in the fixed position.

This way, bikes can be locked while still standing freely – which is just as well, since there are not enough railings and bike stands in the country to accommodate the many, many bicycles.

Of course, a locked bike can, in theory, be picked up and carried away even if the wheel doesn’t turn and unfortunately, this does happen sometimes. But not enough to undermine the public trust in bicycle wheel locks.

Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Rain trousers

Rain trousers/pants (regnbukser) can be bought on their own or with a matching jacket as part of a regnsæt (“rain set”).

These waterproof pants are a novelty to those of us who don’t come from bicycle cultures, but after your first rainy day cycling commute leaves you at the office with drenched trousers, you’ll understand the appeal.

They are designed to fit over your regular trousers and can be stretched over the top of your shoes and held underneath them with a piece of elastic attached to the bottom hem.

While primarily designed for cycling, they also come in handy for walking around during Denmark’s regular spells of cold, damp weather.

Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

READ ALSO: Essential rain gear for a wet Danish winter (and spring, summer, autumn)

The flatbed toaster

There’s something indefinably satisfying about putting two slices of bread in a toaster and waiting for the ‘ping’ as they pop up, warm and ready for spreading.

However, there’s no getting around the fact that toasters are a bit impractical when it comes to thick slices and rolls.

Of course, you can also warm bread in the oven, but it’s more hassle and not for quite the same result.

Enter the flatbed toaster. This device is much more popular in Denmark than the pop-up version and enables easy, simultaneous warming of several slices of bread of various shapes and sizes – including of course, the national favourite, rye bread.

Pro tip: turn the dial less for toasting the second side of the bread, because the element will already be warm. This way you avoid burning the second side.

Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The cheese slicer

Cheese products popular in Denmark include havarti and the Cheasy range from dairy Arla.

These are both soft cheeses and should be cut with an ostehøvl (cheese slicer), a quintessential Danish kitchen utensil.

There are two types of ostehøvl: a wire-based type and a version that looks a bit like a trowel, with a raised edge and a gap in the middle for the sliced cheese to pass through.

Cutting Danish soft cheese with a knife will turn the block into a crumbling mess, so in this setting you can’t really avoid using the specialised slicers. And while their usefulness is diminished for something like cheddar, there are plenty of softer cheeses in other countries that would surely benefit from being set about with an ostehøvl.

One thing to be aware of: injudicious use of the slicer can cause a “ski slope” cheese block, creating uneven slices and leaving one side of the block thicker than the other. Slice evenly.

READ ALSO: Why does Denmark produce so much cheese?

Foam washing cloths for babies

If you’re a parent and have found yourself struggling with a pile of dirty wet wipes or cotton pads after changing your baby, you may have found yourself wondering if there’s another way.

In Denmark, there is: the engangsvaskeklude (disposable washing cloth) comes in tightly-stuffed packets of 50-100 small, square foam cloths, around 20 square centimetres in size.

The cloths are made from thin slices of polyether foam, a type often used in sofa cushions. Manufacturers say it is better for the environment than other types, and the advantage against wet wipes is they are perfume-free.

They just need to be made damp with a splash of lukewarm water, then you’re ready to wipe – they tend to have a good success rate for picking up baby poo.

A sticker saying ‘no thanks’ to junk mail

We’re talking about physical junk mail here, not the type that goes into your email spam box although if there was a sticker for this, I’d be at the front of the queue.

The reklamer, nej tak (“advertisements, no thank you”) sticker can be ordered from FK Distribution, the company which operates Denmark’s tilbudsaviser (“special offer newspaper”) deliveries. These result in piles of paper leaflets, detailing offers at supermarkets, being pushed through letter boxes every day.

These leaflets are useful for bargain hunters, but many people take them out of their overfilled letter box and dump them straight into recycling containers. If you have a nej tak sticker on your letter box, you won’t receive any of the brochures in the first place.

You can also choose a sticker which says “no thanks” to adverts but excludes the offer leaflets, so you can cut down on the junk mail while still keeping abreast of good deals.

Have I missed any good ones? Let me know.