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How can Lucinda get into Government? ... Turns out she could learn a thing or two by watching Borgen

What happens when a former political high-flyer teams up with well-known financial guru to attempt a career reboot? (Article may contain SPOILERS).

This piece was first published on 11 January, following Lucinda Creighton’s official announcement. It is republished here on the day she launches Renua Ireland. 

A FORMER GOVERNMENT high-flyer takes a career leap-of-faith by setting up her own tiny political party — teaming up with a financial guru who may or may not run in the upcoming general election.

The launch of the grouping dominates the political news agenda.

But after an initial, fleeting surge of interest, serious doubts are raised over whether nascent movement (which describes itself as neither ‘left nor right’) can make any significant impact on the polls.

Sounds a little familiar doesn’t it?

Alright, alright…

You may well have noticed that we chose to highlight certain salient facts in that truncated description of Lucinda Creighton’s Renua Ireland.

The broad strokes of the story, you see, have some striking parallels with events that played out in the fictional corridors of power stalked by Birgitte Nyborg in critically-lauded Danish TV show Borgen.

Like The Killing and The Bridge before it, the series garnered a huge following outside of Scandinavia (it was shown on BBC4 and TG4 in this part of the world) including quite a few fans inside Leinster House.

At the start of the third and final series, former Prime Minister Nyborg is a political has-been, sitting on the odd board and delivering the occasional lecture.

But after becoming concerned about the current direction of her old party (the Moderates) she publicly challenges its leader. Her career relaunch doesn’t go quite to plan, however — she ends up losing the leadership vote, before deciding to strike out on her own.

Birgitte

So.

With a general election on the cards over the next 12 months — what’s in store for Lucinda and co, as they go toe-to-toe with the big boys of Irish politics?

Obviously, its anyone’s guess. While there’s been criticism over a lack of detail from the Renua camp until today, polls have shown there’s clearly an appetite for a new political party.

Writing in the Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole called them “a solution in search of problems”. We’ve decided to expand on that theme by seeking an answer to a question almost nobody has been asking…

What can the country’s newest political party learn from series 3 of Borgen? 

It might be difficult signing-up big names 

Birgitte gets off to a thumping start as she goes about setting up her centrist ‘New Democrats’ — but after picking off a couple of middle-ranking ex-Moderates, the recruitment process starts to go a little pear-shaped. Can the defiant politicians land a big hitter from the other side of the aisle, in order to truly stake a claim for the middle-ground of national politics?

Well, yes. Yes, of course they can — sure there’s nine more episodes left to go.

After much tension and intrigue, the deputy leader of the New Right makes a last minute appearance at the group’s big media launch, having fallen out with his old party over immigration.

While all this is going on, the ex-PM’s oldest political ally Bent Sejrø (above) crops up occasionally to try and stop Birgitte from “breaking up the old band” (we’re trying to remember direct quotes from memory — never a good idea) but in a surprise twist, decides to get on board with the new venture at the tail-end of episode two.

Everybody’s got an opinion

Birgitte’s plucky but cash-strapped start-up leases what looks like a former meth lab in an unfashionable part of town as its new HQ, and sets about business.

Soon the office is swamped with eccentrics, single-issue activists and political fan-boys — hoping to hitch their own their own idiosyncratic wagons to the former premier’s star.

After arguments break out over who should pay for the coffee, Birgitte decides to assert her leadership, by telling them all, essentially, to feck-off.

In typical Borgen fashion, she tells them via a lovely speech.

Will the finance guy run?

The Birgitte gang scores a further coup when economist Søren Ravn (above) agrees to run as a candidate (he’s the financial guru we mentioned at the start of this — although we should point out that aside from being a well-known face making his first steps in the political arena, the similarities with Eddie Hobbs pretty much end right there). The media begin to scrutinise his past as soon as the announcement is made, and before you can say ‘Vladimir Putin’ suddenly people are speculating that Ravn could be a former KGB agent.

In an act unlikely to be replicated by any Leinster House press officers in the near to medium future, the New Democrats’ head of communications Katrine Fønsmark (also above) tracks down an ex-KGB boss who says the economist never worked for them, even though his best friend did.

Deciding he prefers not to have reporters trawling through his private life 24/7, Ravn decides not to run for office, and slopes off back to academia. However, Katrine manages to tempt him back* later in the series to act as an advisor.

*Yes, they have sex. This is a Scandinavian TV drama.

You can’t trust all of the people all of the time

As competition between the New Democrats and Birgitte’s old party, now led by Jacob Kruse (smug, wears a lot of polo-necks) intensifies, it soon becomes evident there’s a mole in the office… Someone from the ND inner circle is passing on policy plans while they’re still being worked on — and the Moderates are stealing a march on Birgitte and co by announcing them before the ex-PM has a chance to make it to a microphone.

But where is the leak coming from? Once again, it’s Katrine to the rescue — she hatches another cunning plan that involves stealing everyone’s phones.

Knowing when to hold ‘em, knowing when to fold ‘em

As the series hurtles to a close, Kruse finally shows his true colours in a live TV debate — revealing a nasty, irascible side that immediately turns-off floating voters, and clears the way for a New Democrat victory. Birgitte’s party has made huge gains from a standing start — and with an impressive 13 seats, she’s the star of Danish politics once again (hurrah?).

The poor woman’s on the phone non-stop as rival party leaders scramble to put together a workable coalition. But will she join the left-leaning ‘red’ group, or the right-leaning Blues?

After a series of clandestine meetings beside dimly-lit fountains, it appears, for a brief moment, that our heroine might once again have a shot at the prime minister’s office (it gets very complicated — particularly if you happen to be a purist and insist on watching the thing without the aid of subtitles).

Eventually, though, the deal is done. Birgitte settles for the ministry of foreign affairs, as her party enters government as a junior coalition partner.

“That’s the best gig going!” Bent Sejrø tells her (words to that effect, anyway).

Read: 13 things The West Wing taught us about shutting down the US government

Read: These 4 videos might explain what Lucinda and Eddie’s new party is all about

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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