The party was formed in 1989 as an electoral alliance by three left-wing parties, Left Socialists (VS), Communist Party of Denmark (DKP) and Socialist Workers Party (SAP). A fourth party, the Communist Workers Party (KAP), joined Enhedslisten in 1991. One year earlier the entrance of KAP was vetoed by DKP. KAP was dissolved in 1994.
Enhedslisten has since developed into an independent party based on individual membership. The founding parties have no official say within Enhedslisten. A majority of its currents members do not have a previous association with any of the founding parties. The party cooperates closely with the Socialist Youth Front.
The party entered parliament for the first time in 1994, and is generally considered the left-most party in parliament. The party has never won more than six out of the 179 seats in parliament, and has never sought to become part of any government coalition.
Prior to the 2007 parliamentary election, the party enlisted Asmaa Abdol-Hamid, a candidate who identifies herself as a Muslim and a socialist. She is endorsed by some imams, opposed by others (including those in Hizb-ut-Tahrir), wears an islamic headscarf and will not shake hands with men. These facts, and some of her statements regarding politics and religion, made her the target of much criticism from across the political spectrum. Prominent left wing figures also cited her candidacy as a reason for withdrawing their support from the party. An anti-religious network was created within the party with the stated goal of turning the party into a solely atheist party with a materialist-marxist basis.
During the campaigning there was some speculation as to whether her candidacy would attract or repel voters. After the announcement of her candidacy, opinion polls showed lower figures, perhaps as a result of the controversy, and some polls put the party below the 2 per cent margin necessary for parliamentary representation.
The results of the election were 2.2% for the party, down from 3.4% in the 2005 parliamentary elections. Although not elected, Abdol-Hamid maintained that she had attracted voters to the party. The four seats won by the party went to Frank Aaen, Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, Line Barfod, and Per Clausen. Asmaa Abdol-Hamid was chosen as substitute for the frontrunner of Enhedslisten in the parliament.
The party's objects clause may be summarized as:
- Creating a socialist Denmark and working for the spread of socialism internationally;
- Unite left-wing cooperation and left-wing representation in the struggle against capitalism.
- Improve the Danish welfare system.
- Ensure social justice.
- Spread empathy, and tolerance.
The party opposes Danish membership of the European Union and NATO.
A unique organizational feature is that the party has no chairman, but is led by an executive committee consisting of 25 members. Also: The members of Parliament pay a part of their parliamentary salary to the party, such that their net income is comparable to that of a skilled worker.
However, after the decrease in votes in the general election in 2007, the party saw a need of strengthening the general leadership in its organization. Johanne Schmidt Nielsen was elected political spokesperson for the party.
The party is a founding member of The European Anticapitalist Left (EACL) , cooperates with a number of international organizations, including The European Alliance of EU-critical Movements (TEAM), and The New European Left Forum (NELF), and is an observer to the Party of the European Left
Relationship to Other Parties
Although the Unity List opposes many Social Democratic policies when the latter is in government, the two parties work well together in parliament, and the Red-Greens always support a centre-left government over a centre-right one. For the European parliament election, 2009 the Unity list did not stand on its own but instead supported the People's Movement against the EU and the June Movement.
- AKVA3: Valg til regions råd efter område, parti og stemmer/kandidater/køn. Statistics Denmark. URL accessed on June 13, 2010.
- VALGK3: Valg til kommunale råd efter område, parti og stemmer/kandidater/køn. Statistics Denmark. URL accessed on June 13, 2010.
- Feminist, socialist, devout Muslim: woman who has thrown Denmark into turmoil, Guardian, May 16, 2007
- Imamer anbefaler Asmaa, Kristeligt Dagblad, May 1, 2007
- Kære Asmaa, Information, September 1, 2007
- Religionskrig hos Enhedslisten, aalborg.dk, September 20, 2007
- Asmaa kan sprænge Enh's partiliste i København, Politiken, November 2, 2007
- Ekspert: Asmaa har skræmt marxisterne, Politiken, November 1, 2007