The Danes are worried that Bernie Sanders is giving them a bad name. As Matt Yglesias notes at Vox:
Bernie Sanders has long referred to himself as a socialist rather than a member of the Democratic Party, which has naturally lead to a lot of questions about what socialism means to him. He consistently references the social models of the Nordic states — and especially Denmark — as his idea of what democratic socialism is all about. But in a speech Friday evening at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said that while he’s flattered to see Denmark discussed in a widely-watched US presidential debate he doesn’t think the socialist shoe fits.
“I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism,” he said, “therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”
In Rasmussen’s view, “the Nordic model is an expanded welfare state which provides a high level of security to its citizens, but it is also a successful market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish.”
No doubt the Danes are worried that if international investors thought they were taking Bernie Sanders’ advice on economics, they would have a much harder time sustaining the high standards of living that come from living in a market-driven economy.
In any case, for many years now the Scandinavian countries, like the rest of Europe, have been moving away from the blue model policies that dominated the postwar era, mostly for the same reasons that we have been doing it here in the U.S. Policies that worked relatively well in a closed, steady national economy don’t work nearly as well in a global economy characterized by rapid economic change and technological progress.
There are blue nostalgists in Europe, as there are here, and they attract real public sympathy. The trouble is that the old policies don’t give the old results anymore. Even the French Socialist Party, much against its will, has had to give up much its neo-blue model agenda. Germany’s current success rests on the very non-blue labor market and welfare reforms that the Social Democratic Party enacted into law the last time it was in power. All across Europe, the countries that are reforming their labor markets and pension systems, opening themselves to more competition, fighting structural deficits, and otherwise migrating away from the kind of policies Bernie Sanders longs for are doing better than those who haven’t been able to make the shift.