Revue Borgen – this antidote to real politics looks like The West Wing 2022 | Television
NOTnow we know why Donald Trump wanted to buy Greenland. In the Netflix premiere of Danish political drama Borgen – back with a fourth series after nearly a decade away – oil has been found on the world’s largest island. Fingers crossed, Denmark’s Arctic ambassador told a Foreign Office briefing, the field will be as big and lucrative as Ekofisk. You remember Ekofisk: the oil field that was funded by Norway to secure the economic future of its citizens for generations when we Brits, sad face, did nothing so sensible with our income from the North Sea.
Just a second, you might just jump in. Could you tell us about the political status of Greenland? Sure. Greenland was a Danish colony from 1814 until 1953, when it became part of Denmark. Home rule was established in 1979 and she voted for new self-governing powers in 2008. That said, many of Greenland’s 56,000 people aspire to become independent and use any oil to fund this project. Aren’t you glad you asked?
Borgen is perhaps a near namesake of boring – and even I know the episode that dealt with political machinations over who should become Denmark’s next EU commissioner is an hour I’d better have spent on myself bathing in donkey’s milk with slices of cucumber on the eyes – but this opening episode whistles.
It cuts quickly and furiously between ministerial crises, the TV1 news channel’s audience problems and the personal and political problems of our heroine, Birgitte Nyborg, while making us rediscover my pale and masculine – if not still stale – models. , Søren Malling’s grumpy editor, Torben Friis, and Lars Mikkelsen’s economic sage, Søren Ravn.
Back to the plot. A government bean counter calculates that if the Greenland oilfield produces 100 million barrels over a 30-year period, it would produce a revenue stream of $285 billion. That money would pay a lot of teachers, Finance Minister Helle Holst told a cabinet meeting. But wait: Denmark cannot participate in oil drilling, retorts our heroine, who is Minister of Foreign Affairs and therefore Copenhagen’s answer to Liz Truss. Despite all the other things going on in her life — hot flashes, a son dedicated to freeing the pig, the pregnancy of her ex’s new partner — she’s the most far-sighted member of the cabinet. Copenhagen, she points out, has signed the Paris Agreement and is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
True, says the pragmatic Helle, but it gives Denmark 28 years to exploit the new oil source without breaking that promise. It’s a remark that would make the veins in Greta Thunberg’s and George Monbiot’s forehead tingle so much that if these green energy sources could be hooked up to the national grid, we might not need oil to boil our kettles.
To what extent, asks this new Borgen series, should politicians remain true to their ideals? Should we sacrifice our principles on the altar of economic stability?
The questions become more delicate when we learn that the Russians have bought the Canadian stake in the company which drills for oil. Worse still, the head of this company is Putin’s buddy. Can the Danish government really condone such a project at a time when Western sanctions are being imposed on the Kremlin for invading Ukraine? If you answered yes, you are probably Sergei Lavrov.
A lot has changed since our last visit to Borgen in 2014. Scandi’s British love affair is over. No one accessorizes wellies with Faroe Isle sweaters anymore. I stopped answering my phone with a cheerful, “Saga Norén, Malmö CID.” Denmark has elected a second female prime minister, Mette Frederiksen. He had elected none when the show, about Nyborg’s rise to the top job, started.
As discussed, however, Nyborg’s career has taken a downward turn – yet she still wields power as part of a coalition led by Signe Kragh. Indeed, she is Nick Clegg for David Cameron, if Clegg and Cameron had been women and inspirational.
But if the future is female (the title of the first episode), there is no brotherly solidarity. Kragh finds out that Nyborg has turned everything on Dominic Cummings, inquiring against his boss due to the prime minister’s unconscionable pro-oil stance. “You’re alone on an ice floe,” Kragh scolds when she discovers what Nyborg has done behind her back. “Let’s hope it doesn’t melt under your feet.” That, boys and girls, is how to make a threat.
If, like me, you yearn for democratic politics to be conducted with Machiavellian sophistication and attention to political principle and detail – in other words, in a way contrary to Westminster practice – you will agree that it nice to see Borgen again. Like a 2022 version of The West Wing, it’s a fictional antidote to an unbearable reality.