Today I have been thinking about decency in politics. ‘Borgen’ came to mind. The three series that make up the Danish television drama were amazing. I watched them in my usual way: buy the box set and then watch episode after episode until I have seen the complete series. The gap between each series was too long but, each time, the wait was worth it.
The political system is different from the British system; the number of political parties makes coalitions essential rather than possible. However, the parliamentary nature of Denmark means that several personalities are forefront rather than just one as countries with presidents.
Central to it all is Birgitte, the Prime Minister who leads a government of the centre with Labour and Greens part of the mix. Her approach is refreshing after a centre right government of many years’ standing but to make it to the top she has to see off the arrogant Labour leader and the men around her who feel entitled to the position she achieves.
The second strand to each series is the portrayal of the media by following the team of a national broadcaster as they cover elections and the political process. Linking these two strands is Kaspar, a journalist who goes to work for Birgitte as her spin doctor.
The stories that form series one and two show the new Prime Minister attain office and then establish herself and her government. There are scheming politicians, of course, and events that could derail even the most confident of ministers. She has to make some difficult decisions including severing ties with her political mentor and friend. At home, she has a husband to help her keep everything together, especially with regard to her two children, but her career affects her marriage and we see where things are heading from early on.
In the third series, there is a change of direction. It could be that the drama should have ended after series two. This might have been the plan. In series three Birgitte is in a post politics phase of her life. The political landscape has shifted back to the right and we see a former Prime Minister estranged from her previous party. She is encouraged to get back in the ring, and is tempted. Whether she will form the new party and make a bid to return is the central story of the third series.
Meanwhile, things change for the media as well and we see how the personnel in the television company cope with the pressures of falling ratings. There are shifting loyalties here as well along with the egos of journalists who enjoy being the centre of attention.
‘Borgen’ provides us with a sense that politics can be dramatic but still decent. It is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?