Drama as Social Liberals stay away from Denmark government talks

Ritzau/The Local
Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Drama as Social Liberals stay away from Denmark government talks
Morten Østergaard. Photo: Thomas Sjørup / Ritzau Scanpix

Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) leader Morten Østergaard faced press questions late on Wednesday after his party stayed away from ongoing talks to provide the basis for a new government.


The Social Liberals doubled their number of seats from 8 to 16 at the general election, taking 8.6 percent of the vote, putting them in a key role in the ongoing negotiations to support a new Social Democrat government with Mette Frederiksen as prime minister.

READ ALSO: What do Denmark's Social Liberals want from new government?

But the party’s representatives did not attend negotiations on Wednesday evening, meaning they did not take part in a press conference at which the other parties -- the Social Democrats, Socialist People's Party and Red Green Alliance -- presented an agreement on a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by 2030.

The Social Liberal policy had been for no elements of any overall agreement to be made public before the full deal was in place.

Asked whether he was putting the talks at risk, Østergaard told Ritzau his party still wanted to “give (Social Democrat leader) Mette Frederiksen a chance”.

“But if she drops the baton, we’ll have to see what happens. She is the one hoping to become prime minister,” he said.

“You can’t trade children in poverty for CO2 reductions.

“The risk is that the new direction we are working for will not become reality. We’ve tried hard to create a good atmosphere. But I have to say that today was not a good day for this project,” he continued.

Though not mentioned specifically, Østergaard’s comments appear to refer to the Social Liberal policy of moving families out of Sjælsmark, an accommodation facility for rejected asylum seekers which has been criticized by humanitarian organisations; and a general change in approach to refugees and immigration.

READ ALSO: Refugees to childcare: Five issues that could thwart talks to form Danish government

Østergaard also said that progress on Wednesday “was not something that promoted confidence” in Frederiksen.

“And when we then realized we were to come here tonight with a broad smile and present a part of an agreement, our patience ran out,” he said.

The Social Democrat leader told Ritzau there were “no areas” on which his party was prepared to be flexible on the talks.

“In some areas, where we need to find a way together, we really think things are standing still,” he said.

Østergaard did, however, praise the approach to climate displayed by the other left-wing parties.

“We must bend towards a common goal. And that common goal is hugely ambitious when it comes to climate.

“I think that will be the case regardless of how the final details fall together,” he said.


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