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Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Danish Prime: "The right to speak truth to power"

Today Grundfos, world wide producer of pumps, threatens to leave Denmark after strong criticism from PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated in Berlingske Sunday that the cartoon war ‘separate the sheep from the goats’ in the debate on free speech in Denmark, reproaching circles around Danish PEN, some authors, some news papers, some businesses and others for deserting the principal values of the free society. You’ll find his statements here.

From the interview: “But I think it is safe to say that we have seen a situation that have separated the sheep from the goats."
Which are the sheep and which the goats?
"Speaking only for myself, I have surveyed the field and I have seen sheep and I have seen goats. That’s what I have seen.”
And another quote: “Let’s compare two cases. The Rushdie-case and the case of the 12 cartoons. It is crystal clear to me that... the intellectual ‘climbers of the Parnassus’ have defined a double standard. We have seen a lot of people jumping on one leg and then the other, unsure of which to choose. (…)
The PM's firm line was emphasized Monday as his minister of taxation, Kristian Jensen, and later his political speaker, MP Jens Rohde, targeted business circles for not supporting the basic values of freedom in the constitution.

Grundfos owner and chair, Niels Due Jensen, is now threatening to move his company out of the country.

“…. I find that they [Kristian Jensen, Jens Rohde] together with their political boss should state clearly, that the government preferably not want these companies on Danish soil”, he is quoted in Berlingske today.

When asked if this is a threat to leave Denmark, he left the question open. Later this morning he modified his point of view to some degree on radio.

Grundfos is among the largest Danish companies with some 14.000 employees and a turn around at 2 billion USD.

The debate in Denmark has resulted in a chock decline in the polls for the Socialdemokratiet who proved unable to take a firm position. The Prime enjoys an overwhelming support throughout the population, and has managed to emphasize very clear political principles during the crisis.

The constitutional rights of freedom is heart blood for the party in government, Venstre. The Danish constitution from 1849 was created by people deeply connected to what later became Venstre in their fight against the ruling absolutism. The constitution ended the period of absolutism in Denmark, introduced in 1660.

The Prime in the Sunday interview defined free speech as “the right to speak truth to power”.


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