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TODAY IN DENMARK

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Tuesday

Parliament returns to spark election expectations, and Swedish investigations at the Nord Stream pipeline are the key news stories in Denmark on Tuesday.

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Tuesday
The Danish Constitution, which can be thanked for the return of parliament on the first Tuesday in October each year. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

Opening of parliament 

Denmark’s Folketing or parliament returns today, following the terms set out in the Danish constitution, which states that each new parliamentary year must begin on the first Tuesday in October.

The occasion is marked by a number of traditions, including an opening speech given by the prime minister and attended by members of the Royal Family.

Parliament’s return means that Danish lawmakers can again vote on and discuss law proposals.

READ ALSO: Denmark reopens parliament: Who does what during annual custom?

Social Liberals give government an extra day to announce election

This year’s reopening of parliament comes as the deadline of October 4th, given by the Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party for the government to call an election, looms large.

The Social Liberals have demanded Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen call an early general election, an ultimatum issued in response to the conclusions of an inquiry into the government’s 2020 mink scandal, which resulted in Frederiksen receiving a rebuke.

The party has threatened to bring down the government through a vote of no confidence if an election is not called before October 4th, the day after parliament reopens. As such, an election would have to be called today to meet the demand.

Talk of an election is therefore high as parliament returns, but the government now appears to have been given an extra day to call the vote, news wire Ritzau reports.

“The exact day means nothing for me. And I can also see that several commentators have noted that an election will be called on Wednesday [October 4th]. And that is completely fine with me and us,” Social Liberal political leader Sofie Carsten Nielsen said.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: What changes about life in Denmark in October 2022?

Sweden blocks off Nord Stream area for investigation

Swedish prosecutors said Monday that they had decided to block off the area around the Nord Stream pipeline leaks in the Baltic Sea, while the suspected sabotage was investigated.

In order to further the investigation into “aggravated sabotage,” the prosecutor in charge had decided “to block off the area in order to do a crime scene investigation,” the Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement reported by news wire AFP.

“The investigation continues, we are at an intensive stage… I understand the considerable public interest, but we are in the early stages of a preliminary investigation and I can therefore not comment on details about which investigatory measures we are taking,” public prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist was quoted saying in the statement.

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TODAY IN DENMARK

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Friday

Falling unemployment, the Danish government refusing to accept debt payments from citizens, and plans for a fully swimmable Copenhagen harbour are among the top news stories in Denmark on Friday.

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Friday

Danish government returns debt payments from 138,000 people 

Having a debt to the Danish public sector on your books can have serious financial consequences, including jeopardizing your eligibility to secure a mortgage. But from January to October 2022, 138,000 Danes trying to square their debts with the government were refused due to confusion about whether the Danish Debt Collection Agency actually has the right to receive it, newspaper Berlingske reports.

Data from the agency indicate the number of debts considered “not ready for recovery” has leapt 1.5 million this year alone. Half of those debts are connected to Danish tax agency, Skat. 

According to Berlingske, the issues with ‘unpayable’ debts arose in 2015 when EFI, the IT system Skat used to collect debt, was shuttered. 

Based on the scale of the problem, the government will have to consider cancelling some of the debts, Peter Bjerre Mortensen, professor of public administration at Aarhus University, tells Berlingske. 

“They need to swallow some very big camels and/or simplify some legislation or forgive some debts, because right now it seems that things are still going the wrong way,” Mortensen says. 

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

Politicians push for ‘fully swimmable’ Copenhagen harbour 

Currently, swimming in Copenhagen’s harbours is only allowed at 11 designated bathing zones — though that doesn’t deter the estimated 200,000 people who take a dip elsewhere in the harbour yearly, risking fines. Now, Copenhagen mayor Sophie Hæstorp Andersen and other local politicians hope to flip the system on its head, making the vast majority of the harbour swimmable with a few ‘no-go’ zones. 

City officials plan to mark certain areas — for instance, near wastewater outlets or sailboat traffic — with ‘no swimming’ signs. 

READ MORE: Why the shocking cold of winter bathing is a Nordic favourite 

Unemployment continues to fall in Denmark 

October marked another record-breaking low for unemployment in Denmark, according to data from the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment and the Danish Chamber of Commerce. 

Just 11,519 full-time workers were experiencing ‘long-term unemployment’ (meaning they had been unemployed for at least 80 percent of the previous year) in October. That’s down from 12,400 in September, which was the lowest figure in 26 years, according to newswire Ritzau. 

In March 2020, there were 22,000 long-term unemployment benefit recipients, which spiked to 40,000 in April 2021. 

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