From the history of the Social Democratic Party of the Faroe Islands

The Social Democratic Party of the Faroe Islands was established in 1925.

Primarily the same men, who established the party, had previously initiated Socialistisk Ungdomsforbund SUF (Socialist Youth Union) and Thorshavn Arbejderforening (Tórshavn Labor Union). During the preparations of the establishment of the party much indicates that it was closely associated with the Danish Social Democratic Party.

On September 25th, 1925, the Social Democratic political club of Southern Streymoy (Suðurstreymoyar Javnaðarfelag) was established at the office of the Labor Union of Tórshavn (Havnar Arbeiðsmannafelag). M.S. Viðstein became the first Party leader.

A couple of months later people in Tvøroyri established the Social Democratic political club of the parish Froðba (Froðbiar Sóknar Javnaðarfelag). P.M. Dam was one of the main advocates.

The same people, who were in the lead when establishing the Social Democratic political clubs, were also involved in the labor union movement.

P.M. Dam was a teacher in Tvøroyri. He was also closely associated with the labor union there named "Enigheden” where he worked unpaid most of his life.

In 1926 the clubs gathered to establish The Social Democratic Party of The Faroe Islands with its own political manifesto, which mainly followed manifestos of other Scandinavian social democratic parties. This manifesto was however extended by 11 items, all distinctively Faroese. The most important of the 11 items were the demands for a new and democratic educational planning, a public fishing industry bank, comprehensive social agencies, parceling out public land for proletarians and making whaling public.

In 1928 the Social Democratic Party ran for the general election for the first time. However for the previous Danish general election, M.S. Viðstein ran against Andrass Samuelsen from the Unionist Party. But although Andrass Samuelsen was a safe candidate to win a seat in the Danish Parliament, M.S. Viðstein did not make the election easy for the Andrass Samuelsen and the Unionist Party.

January 23rd, 1928, the Social Democratic Party received 671 votes across the country, which was 10,6% of the votes and two representatives in the Assembly, P.M. Dam from Tvøroyri and M.S. Viðstein from Tórshavn.

The first couple of years were marked by the close co-operation between the party and the labor union movement, which also characterized the party’s politics in the Assembly. This was noticed in party proposals concerning nationalization, unemployment benefits, the public system, changes in the state of land, and proposals concerning a new and different educational system.

However, seeing as there was a right winged lead in the Assembly; the party had not many opportunities to influence politics. The party’s politics did however influence the ordinary people, who lived under continuously worsened conditions throughout the 1930’s. The party progressed in the general election in 1936 winning 6 elected representatives, 1 from Eysturoy, 1 from South Streymoy, 1 from Sandoy and 3 from Suðuroy.

The first couple of years were also influenced by some internal difficulties. The party had problems maintaining the party organ “Føroya Social Demokrat”. Idealistic disagreements were between M.S.Viðstein and his supporters, who wanted to lean towards the Third International, and P.M. Dam and his supporters, who wanted to follow the viewpoints of the Scandinavian labor union movement. The internal conflict resulted in M.S. Viðstein leaving the party and politics in 1936. He spent the rest of his life as a typographer and poet. P.M. Dam then led the party with authority and competence until his death on November 8th, 1968.

The Social Democratic Party was very active in the preparations leading to the Home Rule Act in 1948. The party completely supported the Home Rule Act and has worked in accordance with it ever since. Nevertheless, the party acknowledges that the time has come to replace the Home Rule Act with a new and modern law, the Self Rule Act.

After the implementations of the Home Rule Act in 1948, the Social Democratic Party became a part of the first Faroese Government. In 1950 the party left the Government and after 8 years in opposition it finally had a good election in 1958. The party won 8 representatives overall in all constituencies except Northern Streymoy and turned out to be the largest party. P.M. Dam became Prime Minister in the coalition between the Social Democratic Party, the Unionist Party and the Home Rule Party.

Following the 1958 breakthrough, the Social Democratic Party has been a part of all Faroese Governments except from 1963-67, 1981-85, 1989-1991 and 1996-04.

In the coalition between the People’s Party, the Unionist Party and the Social Democratic Party from 2004-2008 and in the coalition between the Social Democratic Party, the Center Party and the Republican Party from January 2008 to September 2008 Jóannes Eidesgaard was Prime Minister. When the coalition between the Social Democratic Party, the Center Party and the Republican Party broke off in September 2008, the Social Democratic Party once again joined a coalition with the People’s Party and the Unionist Party, however this time without the Prime Minister’s post.

The Social Democratic Party is a member of the Nordic cooperation between the social democrats and the trade union movement, SAMAK, and has the right to attend meetings in Socialist International, SI.

Sosialistiskt Ungmannafelag, SU, (Socialistic Youth Association) was established in 1965. It is a political youth association associated with the Social Democratic Party. SU is represented in the party’s management on equal terms with the party’s constituency organizations. SU supports the Social Democratic Party in most affairs, but has had separate attitudes regarding some political affairs. SU is a member of FNSU, the Social Democratic Youth Association in Scandinavia and IUSY, the International Union of Socialist Youth.

The Social Democratic Party established the newspaper “Føroya Social Democrat” (the Social Democrat of the Faroe Islands) and was published for the first time on May 24th, 1927. Later the newspaper changed its name to “Sosialurin” where, among others, Vilhelm Johannesen and Jan Muller have been editors. Until 2006 the party owned the newspaper, which was the largest one on the Faroe Islands. A new company with a newspaper management, employees and Føroya Tele (Faroese Telecom) took over and runs it as the mass media company, Miðlahúsið.

Prime Ministers:

P.M Dam 1959-1963, 1967-1968
Atli P. Dam 1970-1981, 1985-1989
Marita Petersen 1993-1994
Jóannes Eidesgaard 2004-2008

Party leaders:

M.S. Viðstein 1926-1936
P.M. Dam 1936-1968
Einar Waag 1968-1969
J.Fr. Øregaard 1969-1972
Atli P. Dam 1972-1993
Marita Petersen 1993-1996
Jóannes Eidesgaard 1996- 2011
Aksel V. Johannesen 2011- current.