Lars Løkke Rasmussen is playing hardball with support party the Conservatives. Photo: Jens Astrup/Scanpix
“I know the positions very well. Does that mean I’m going to fire my minister? No. So there is another more likely scenario. That is to call for an election,” he told broadcaster DR.
The Conservative People's Party, which has just six seats in parliament but whose support is crucial to the minority centre-right government, said on Wednesday that it had lost confidence in Hansen, accusing her of giving them wrong information about a proposed package of agricultural regulations, which they say could have serious consequences for the environment.
Hansen had already been roundly criticised by opposition parties who said she had given into the farm lobby on norms governing the use of fertilisers, leaving water supplies exposed to increased pollution from agricultural runoff.
On Thursday, the opposition parties said they would call for a formal vote of no confidence in the minister, to be held on Wednesday.
Analysts now believe that Rasmussen will try to satisfy the Conservatives ahead of the Wednesday vote by negotiating an addendum to the ag bill that will get his support party to back down on its threat to join the opposition in the no confidence vote. The ag bill itself passed parliament despite the criticism on Thursday.
Conservative spokesman Rasmus Jarlov, however, said the PM could forget about it.
“Our distrust will not disappear just because we are in the midst of negotiating an additional agreement […] There will be a vote of no confidence next week and we intend to vote in favour of it,” he told DR.
Hansen said on Thursday that she would respect parliament’s decision if a majority supports the vote of no confidence. It was also announced on Thursday that Hansen would not be joining a trip to Saudi Arabia – which in itself has become a separate controversy – as the minority Venstre government and the Conservatives bash out the additional agreement to the agriculture bill.