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Danish PM strongly hints at general election after opening of parliament

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen gave a clear suggestion that a general election will be called imminently following the traditional opening of parliament on Tuesday.

Danish PM strongly hints at general election after opening of parliament
Danish PM Mette Frederiksen speaks to media after the opening of parliament on Tuesday October 4th. Frederiksen is expected to announce a general election on Wednesday. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

A general election is widely expected to be announced by Frederiksen on Wednesday after she opted not to use her speech at the opening of parliament to announce it, but subsequently told media an election was close.

“I daresay the election will soon start getting closer,” she told reporters following the traditional opening of parliament.

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When again asked when the election would be announced, she repeated the comment “I daresay it’s close”.

The PM was also asked by broadcaster DR why she had not used the speech traditionally given by the prime minister at the opening of parliament to announce the election.

“Because it’s the opening speech of parliament and I think it was important to give an opening speech in which I first and foremost underline the serious situation we and Europe are in, but also point out the areas in we have a lot of work to do, regardless of whoever is in power after the election,” she said.

Legally, the government could wait until June 4th, 2023 to hold a general election, which is required once every four years under the Danish Constitution.

The Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party has demanded Frederiksen call an early general election, an ultimatum issued in response to the conclusions earlier this year of an inquiry into the government’s 2020 mink scandal, which resulted in Frederiksen receiving an official rebuke.

The Social Liberals wanted an election called by the time of parliament’s return and have threatened to bring down the government through a vote of no confidence if an election is not announced.

“If a majority in parliament want an election to be held, the government cannot ignore that,” Frederiksen said on Tuesday.

She also called the timing of the election “remarkable” given the current international security situation and recent leaks at the Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea

Parliament is opened each year on the first Tuesday in October with a traditional speech given by the prime minister – somewhat comparable to a ‘State of the Union’ speech – in which she gives her assessment of the situation in the Scandinavian nation as the new political year begins.

In her speech on Tuesday, Frederiksen covered topics including Denmark’s economic challenges, climate change, strengthening the country’s welfare provisions and international security. She used the word “secure” (tryg) seven times in various forms during the speech according to DR’s count, but chose not to mention the election for now.

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POLITICS

Danish Liberal party demands ‘high ambitions’ from Social Democrats

Liberal (Venstre) party leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen has said ambitions “above normal” should be aimed for in talks to form a government across the political centre.

Danish Liberal party demands ‘high ambitions’ from Social Democrats

On December 6th, ongoing negotiations to form a government will tie the all-time record for Denmark’s longest ever with the 35-day negotiation of 1975.

But the Liberal party is still holding out for more concessions from Frederiksen and the Social Democrats, its leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said after another major party on the right, the Conservatives, quit the talks over the weekend.

“The Liberals will continue negotiations with the Social Democrats in the coming days,” Ellemann-Jensen wrote on Twitter.

“If the Liberals are to commit to an agreement with the Social Democrats – whether in opposition or in government – the content of that agreement should be above the usual level of political ambition,” he said.

Ellemann-Jensen has cited to changes to the top tax bracket as a party priority, though that’s been a non-starter for the Social Democrats. 

The Liberals also hope to lower inheritance tax as well as income taxes for Denmark’s most modest earners, newswire Ritzau reports.

The withdrawal of the Conservatives means the Liberals are the only party on the right who could realistically enter government with the Social Democrats.

Six of the 12 parties elected to parliament at the election now remain in government talks with the Social Democrats.

These are the Liberals, Liberal Alliance and Danish People’s Party from the ‘blue bloc’ and the Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) and Socialist People’s Party (SF), from the red bloc side. The centrist Moderates are the final party.

READ MORE: ‘Topskat’: What is Denmark’s high income tax bracket?

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