ReportageElection setbacks and the rise of the far right convinced the Danish Social Democratic Party to adopt very tough measures on immigration and integration. Validated by the ballot box, this assumed turn arouses a mixture of attraction and repulsion within European social democracy.
When called to set up a meeting, Paw Østergaard Jensen offered to meet him at his home in Albertslund. ” Where it all began “, he blurted out, before adding: “You will see, there are not many Danish names on the mailboxes. ” From Copenhagen Central Station, it takes nineteen minutes by train to reach this town of 27,000 inhabitants, west of the Danish capital: a dormitory suburb, like there are hundreds of in Scandinavia, made up of bars of apartment buildings and small terraced houses, hastily built in the 1960s and 1970s, to house workers who converged on the big cities.
This is also where immigrant workers came to live, recruited by companies to fill the labor shortage. Coming from Turkey, Pakistan, Yugoslavia or Morocco, the first arrived in Albertslund in 1967. Then they brought their families. A house painter, Paw Østergaard Jensen has lived there since the early 1990s. At the time, the social democratic mayors of the municipalities of western Copenhagen began to talk about the difficulties of integration. “But the party leaders did not live in our neighborhoods. They did not listen ”, regrets Paw.
The official list of ghettos
He joined the party in 2001, after the first in a long series of Social Democrats’ legislative defeats. For eight years, he has chaired the social affairs committee at the town hall. In Albertslund, nearly two-thirds of the housing stock consists of low-cost housing. “But no neighborhood is on the official list of ghettos », he congratulates himself.
This list, established by the Ministry of Transport since 2010, identifies (and qualifies as “ghettos”) the HLM districts of more than 1000 inhabitants of which at least 50% of the population was born abroad or of foreign parents and who tick at least two “negative” criteria in terms of unemployment rate, number of crimes, level of education and income of residents.
To escape it, the town hall of Albertslund makes sure to mix up the tenants. Children of parents born abroad are scattered throughout the city’s schools. But that’s not enough, says Paw. He mentions his downstairs neighbor, a “Charming lady”, of Kurdish origin, arrived forty years ago, who still does not speak Danish. He shows the posters in several languages that had to be put up in the stairwells, at the start of the pandemic, to be sure that everyone understood the recommendations.
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