Danish parliament set to expel prison-bound ex-immigration minister

Former immigration minister Inger Støjberg was sentenced to 60 days in prison by a Danish impeachment court on December 13th.
Former immigration minister Inger Støjberg was sentenced to 60 days in prison by a Danish impeachment court on December 13th.Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix
A majority in the Danish parliament is expected to vote to fire former immigration minister Inger Støjberg after she was found guilty of breaching ministerial law by a special impeachment court.

Following the verdict given by a rare impeachment court on Monday, parliamentary parties met to clarify their positions on whether they think Støjberg is “worthy” (værdig in Danish) of continuing as a lawmaker, effectively deciding whether to eject her from parliament.

The impeachment court found that Støjberg intentionally acted against the law in 2016 when she ordered that refugee couples be separated without individual case assessment if one of the partners is under the age of 18.

By convention, politicians with criminal convictions are excluded from being members of parliament but there is no exact precedence in Støjberg’s case because she was found guilty by a special impeachment court, rather than in a regular criminal trial.

If the parliament decides to remove her from her seat, she is free to run and be re-elected at the next election.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why reaction to Støjberg verdict is important for democracy in Denmark

Støjberg’s former party the Liberals (Venstre) announced on Wednesday it had decided to declare her no longer worthy to be a parliamentary representative.

Two left wing parties, the Socialist People’s Party and the Red Green Alliance, made similar announcements soon after.

“It is a unanimous (Liberal) parliamentary group that believes it is incompatible with the position of member of parliament to have received an unconditional prison sentence,” Liberal group chairperson Karsten Lauritzen said on Wednesday.

“You cannot imagine that you can sit in prison and serve that sentence while (also) sitting in parliament,” Lauritzen said.

The centre-left Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party said on Tuesday it supports firing Støjberg as a lawmaker, as did a party on the right in the form of the libertarian Liberal Alliance.

The governing Social Democrats and the Conservative party are yet to confirm their positions. The Danish People’s Party and Nye Borgerlige (New Right) want to allow Støjberg to continue.

Wednesday’s announcements mean a majority is now in favour of firing the former minister.

Støjberg maintains she does not regret issuing the illegal directive despite her eventual conviction for it.

“I hope everyone would have done as I did and I will take my sentence without bowing my head,” she said.

A vote on her suitability for parliament is expected to take place on December 21st.


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