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Trust is key word for PM at opening of Denmark’s parliament

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that she would seek to increase trust across all aspects of Danish life as parliament was opened on Tuesday.

Trust is key word for PM at opening of Denmark’s parliament
Princess Benedikte, Crown Princess Mary, Crown Prince Frederik and Queen Margrethe attended the opening of parliament on Tuesday. Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

In her speech, the PM said she saw trust as one of Denmark’s most valuable commodities, and one that both could improve public confidence and contribute to economic growth.

Trust has, according to Frederiksen, been under pressure in recent times. As such, the government’s work would aim to promote it, she said.

“We have built a society on trust. With obligations. With rights. In that order. I pay my tax and trust you will pay yours. I pay for your visit to the doctor, trusting that you will pay for mine. We have that solidarity,” she said.

“When we meet in our local areas, or at work, or at parents’ meetings – person to person – we meet in trust. It’s not just hygge, it’s a huge strength,” she continued.

If Denmark is to thrive, several areas of society must be given renewed focus, the PM said.

Early pensions for people who have worked for many years in physical jobs, an area Frederiksen has consistently said she seeks to reform, was named specifically, as was climate.

She criticized the European tax fraud scandal, speculation on the Danish housing market by foreign investors, and excessive directors' bonuses as among the things that have created “cracks in our trust”.

“Large banks which neglected their societal responsibility, even though we looked out for them. The climate crisis. Concern for our very planet and existence,” she added.

The opening of the new parliamentary year means that Danish lawmakers will resume voting on and discussing law proposals in parliament.

The parliament is opened by a traditional opening speech given by the prime minister – somewhat comparable to a US State of the Union speech – in which the PM gives her or his assessment of the situation of the Scandinavian nation as the new political year begins.

The speech is usually attended by the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family, who watch from the Folketinget parliament’s Royal Box.

After MPs attend a service at the nearby Christiansborg Slotskirke church – which is also used for royal ceremonies – the Queen and other royal family members arrive at parliament for the opening ceremony, where they are received by the Speaker.

No debate is held on the ceremonial opening day.

READ ALSO: Power shifts in Denmark with the giving of gifts

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POLITICS

Who do Denmark’s right-wing parties want to be prime minister?

Conservative parties in Denmark must now decide who their favoured prime ministerial candidate will be, with to party leaders declared as candidates for the job.

Who do Denmark’s right-wing parties want to be prime minister?

Denmark will have three candidates for prime minister in the next election – a change from the usual two – after Søren Pape Poulsen, the leader of the Conservative party, said on Monday that that he will stand as a PM candidate in the next general election.

Poulsen’s declaration on Monday means there are now two leaders from right wing parties in Denmark with an expressed aim of securing backing as prime minister following the next general election. The other is the Liberal (Venstre) party leader, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen.

The third candidate is the incumbent, Social Democrat Mette Frederiksen, who commands the support of left-wing parties.

Poulsen’s announcement means smaller right-wing parties will have to decide who they would ultimately back to be prime minister.

It is unlikely the situation would hand the election to Frederiksen, as the right-wing parties can be expected to eventually align behind one of Ellemann-Jensen or Poulsen should they have an overall majority after the next election.

The leader of the Liberal Alliance, a libertarian party which currently has three seats in parliament, told news wire Ritzau his party was yet to decide on a preferred candidate.

“It’s still too early to say for us. Primarily because it’s actually unclear to me what their visions actually are,” Alex Vanopslagh said.

Another conservative party, the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, is also yet to decide on its support, but leader Morten Messerschmidt welcomed Poulsen’s candidacy.

“It means something – who is the safest hand to lead Denmark through an uncertain time. And that’s what we’re going to have some good talks about, and I won’t be announcing anything here today,” he said.

“But I can just say that I’m very happy that Søren Pape has entered the ring,” he said.

READ ALSO: Danish Conservative leader confirms plan to become prime minister

Vanopslagh however said that Poulsen’s announcement “does not make a positive impression when [he] has waited for so long”, leaving Liberal leader Ellemann-Jensen to “take the flack” as opposition leader through a difficult period.

Pernille Vermund, leader of the far-right Nye Borgerlige (New Right) party, said she would not announce which of the two her party will back until after the election.

“Politically I’m probably a bit closer to Søren Pape Poulsen, but on the other hand the last three years have given me a good impression that if you make an agreement with Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, you can trust the Liberal party,” she said.

Vermund also called for clear statements from both party leaders on their immigration policies.

The announcement by the Conservative leader has disrupted the established order in the ‘bloc’ system which usually prevails in Danish politics.

The ‘bloc’ classification commonly broadly denotes whether parties are right or left of centre.

Recent decades have seen the ‘blue bloc’ parties work together in parliament to back the leader of the Liberal party, currently Ellemann-Jensen, to be prime minister if they command a majority after a general election.

The next election in Denmark must take place no later than June 4th next year, but recent speculation has suggested Frederiksen is likely to call an election as soon as this autumn.

A recent Voxmeter poll for news wire Ritzau gave the Liberal party 13.4 points, compared to 13.3 points for the Conservatives. The poll gave an overall conservative majority.

READ ALSO: How likely is Denmark to have a general election ahead of schedule?

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