Where's the party?

Denmark got a new government yesterday.

Little more than two weeks after the general election, the leader of a center-left coalition went to the Queen and told that she had a government platform and a parliamentary majority behind it. She was duly appointed prime minister. Then handover ceremonies were held at the various government ministries. Outgoing ministers shook hand with their successors, gave good-natured farewell speeches, and then up and left.

The new government wows to dismantle many of the laws the old one passed. The election campaign has been moderately poisonous. These things are important; they affect the life and dreams of real live people all over the country. And yet, when the old leadership lost their majority, what they did was to smile sadly and step aside, hoping for better luck next time.

There had been no mass protests. No armored vehicles in the streets. No weapons fired or even readied. Power simply changed hands, just like that. Those formerly in power will, for the most part, stay in politics. They will do their best to undermine the new government's policies and popularity. They will not be harassed by the authorities for doing so.

That, my friends, is fucking remarkable. If it sounds banal, it is only because it has been the norm for about a half-dozen decades, in about a score countries mostly clustered in about half a hemisphere. Compared to most of history, or even to most of the world today, it is simply unbelievable.

We are, in general, unaware how lucky we are. We should be out in the streets, waving flags, whooping and cheering for being able to do this. We aren't, because it just feels normal. But that doesn't make it so.

For full disclosure, I'm a member of one of the parties in the new government, so it goes without saying that I'm happy to have it. But I'm even happier that sometimes we're not in power, because otherwise we wouldn't be able to do this. A peaceful, democratic change of government is one of the greatest things one can ever be part of -- and it makes me very proud to be Danish.

(If you're from another country that does this regularly, go ahead and be proud of that too. There's enough to go around.)


  1. On the 24 June 2010, Australia's Prime Minister (head of the ruling party) was replaced by a vote of the elected party members - no violence, no (public) anger, he just stepped aside.

    Although some people are happier, and some regret it, we did well.

  2. Awesome, perhaps we'll have something like that one day.
    From South Africa.


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