SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

POLITICS

Denmark reopens parliament: Who does what during annual custom?

The opening of the new parliamentary year means that Danish lawmakers will once again vote on and discuss law proposals in parliament.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks during the opening of parliament on October 5th 2021. Queen Margrethe, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary can be seen in the royal gallery in the top centre of the picture.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks during the opening of parliament on October 5th 2021. Queen Margrethe, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary can be seen in the royal gallery in the top centre of the picture. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

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

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

After lawmakers 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.

The meeting is traditionally led by parliament’s longest-serving member. Formalities including voting for the Speaker and deputy speakers.

That is followed by the traditional opening speech from the prime minister.

While there are no predefined expectations as to the content of the speech, the Danish constitution states that the PM must make her assessment of the state of the kingdom and present some of the government’s initiatives.

Usually, the Prime Minister traditionally gives a speech at which she outlines the government’s strategies and key issues for the incoming parliamentary session, and sums up the previous year.

Last year, most of the regular traditions of the annual opening of parliament were observed, despite the ongoing situation with the coronavirus, although a church service attended by most members of parliament was moved from its normal location at Christiansborgs Slotskirke to the larger Holmens Kirke nearby, to allow social distancing.

The reopening of parliament often sees demonstrators gather in front of Christiansborg. Different groups gathered to lobby for diverse causes including climate and childcare standards in 2021.

Demonstrators calling for improved funding and staffing in municipal childcare gather outside the parliament in Copenhagen on October 5th 2021. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

With normal service resumed in 2021, Frederiksen used the speech to talk about topics including affordable housing, international climate targets and educations.

But she also said the government planned to “reduce the tempo” of new law proposals this autumn while increasing the quality of bills.

“The government will put forward a proposal programme for the new parliamentary year which will be less extensive than usual. Less rushed legislation. We’d rather have less but, on the other hand, more thorough proposals,” the PM said.

Frederiksen also called for a boost to the “democratic conversation” in the coming year.

She described public political discourse in Denmark as often being “fragmented” and “superficial”.

“And perhaps also too hard. We all know what it’s like. Especially on social media. We have to allow space for afterthought and reflection,” she said.

No debate is held on the ceremonial opening day – the nitty-gritty of discussing proposals will have to wait until later in the week. 

READ ALSO: Denmark wants to build 20,000 new affordable rental homes

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

POLITICS

Danish Conservative leader faces questions despite party support

The Danish Conservatives on Saturday expressed unanimous support for chairman Søren Pape Poulsen despite the very disappointing election result on November 1st.

Danish Conservative leader faces questions despite party support

The Danish Conservative party expressed unanimous support for chairman Søren Pape Poulsen on Saturday, despite a very disappointing election result on November 1st.

It seems that Pape has weathered the storm for the time being. That is the opinion of political commentator Hans Engell, “but whether he is the leading conservative candidate in four years can probably be questioned,” he says.

Engell points out that Pape and the Conservatives are currently in the process of negotiating with acting Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen about the possibility of entering into a broad coalition government that stretches across the Danish political spectrum, an idea that Pape categorically refused to consider during the election campaign.

After the election, however, he has opened up to the possibility of a broad government.

READ ALSO: Danish government: Rasmussen backs coalition with traditional rivals

“The Conservatives could theoretically be in a government in a month. It is clear that during that phase, the party always gives support to its leading figures,” Engell says. “But of course, this does not mean that the critics and those who wanted a more thorough analysis are completely silent.”

No obvious successor

Engell points out that there is currently no obvious successor to Pape. The leadership of the Conservatives gathered at Egelund Castle in North Zealand on Saturday to discuss the result of the general election.

When Pape announced his candidacy for Prime Minister on August 15th, support for the Conservatives increased significantly. Barely a week later, the party had the support of 16.5 percent of the voters in an opinion poll by the analysis institute Voxmeter.

However, there followed a series of personal stories surrounding Pape’s private life and political judgment, and in the end, the Conservatives ended up with just 5.5 percent of the vote in the election.

Engell points out that the issues that the Conservatives focused on did not manage to set the tone of the election campaign. This applies to, among other things, the mink case and tax breaks.

“Many of the topics they ran on did not affect the electorate at all,” Engell pointed out.

SHOW COMMENTS