Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Folketing and Human Flourishing

On March 23, 1943, Danes went to the polls to elect a new parliament. Denmark had been occupied by the Nazis since April 9, 1940, and its government had been functioning as a "protectorate" of the Third Reich. That is, the Germans allowed the Danes to engage in limited self-government, though German soldiers were deployed throughout the country.

The turnout was 89.5%, the highest turnout ever achieved in Denmark. The National Socialist Workers' Party (the Nazis) got 2.1% of the vote. The Social Democrats, who despised the Nazis and were in turn despised by them, got 44.5% of the vote, more than double the votes of any other party.

This repudiation of the Nazi project was characteristic of the Danes, who generally refused to collaborate beyond directing their economic production to Germany and signing a watered-down version of the Anti-Comintern Pact. The Telegram Crisis had taken place the previous autumn - Danes were defying the Nazis at all levels of Danish society.

What's amusing is that, of course, it was irrational for the Danes to vote at all. The time and effort that it takes to cast a ballot is not cost-justified when you consider how unlikely it is that the election will be decided by a single vote. So what at first appears to be a striking example of defiance against tyranny turns out to be a pretty hilarious demonstration that Danish people were just not that bright, and that unfortunately the height of their irrationality (that is, the highest voter turnout) came at a time when it would have been preferable for the Danes to have their wits about them. As such, on March 23 I will remember with bitterness the disastrous Folketing Election of 1943 and mourn the rational self-interested behavior that could have been.

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