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2022 DANISH ELECTION

Frederiksen wants centre coalition for Denmark’s next government

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Wednesday that she will seek to form a government across the political centre after the upcoming parliamentary election on November 1st.

Frederiksen wants centre coalition for Denmark's next government
Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen in the town of Køge after calling a general election for November 1st. Frederiksen wants to form a centre coalition after the election. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Frederiksen said she was prepared to form a cross-aisle government, in a move that would break with Denmark’s established ‘bloc politics’ system which sees left- and right-wing parties in opposing factions.

Denmark will choose a new government on Tuesday November 1st after Frederiksen on Wednesday announced a parliamentary election.

“The time has come to try a new form of government in Denmark. We are ready for both compromise and collaboration,” she said in the announcement.

“We want a broad government with parties on both sides of the political centre,” she said during the briefing, at which press questions were not taken.

READ ALSO: ‘Bloc politics’: A guide to understanding general elections in Denmark

An election-related advertisement placed by Frederiksen’s Social Democratic party in Danish newspapers on Wednesday morning also hinted at cross-aisle government.

“Reality is about working together. The election is about who can make it happen”, stated the ad, which was placed in all major Danish newspapers.

A centre coalition could in theory see the Social Democrats team up with the Liberal (Venstre) party, the largest on the right wing, to form a grand coalition, a coalition of the two biggest parties in parliament who traditionally oppose each other.

It should be noted that the Conservative party could become the largest right-wing party after the election – polls place it very close to the Liberals on vote share.

Frederiksen told media on Wednesday that she saw both the Liberals and Conservatives as potential centre coalition partners, along with the centre-left Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) and Socialist People’s (SF) parties.

The Social Liberals have already said they want a centre coalition, but the Liberals and the Conservatives both oppose it.

“We can make political agreements together, but I can’t see us forming a government together,” Conservative leader Søren Pape Poulsen told news wire Ritzau, adding he “cannot imagine” such a scenario.

The Liberals, who are closer to the centre ideologically than the Conservatives and therefore a more conceivable partner in a centre coalition, also appeared on Wednesday to clearly reject the prospect.

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

“I am running for election as Denmark’s next prime minister in a new conservative-liberal government,” Liberal leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen told Ritzau.

Ellemann-Jensen ruled out working with Frederiksen.

“We want different things. And I do not trust Mette Frederiksen,” he said. Frederiksen has come under fire from opposition parties for her role in the the 2020 mink scandal, which resulted in criticism of the government and Frederiksen receiving an official rebuke.

Despite the major conservative parties rejecting a cross-aisle government, a new party – which is led by a political heavyweight – explicitly supports the idea, keeping it in play as a potential outcome.

The Moderate party, headed by former prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, has not declared for either the left or right wing bloc. Rasmussen has said he would prefer a coalition across the centre. He led a right-wing ‘blue bloc’ government as leader of his previous party, the Liberals.

On the eve of the last election in 2019, Rasmussen, then prime minister, sprang a surprise by dramatically announcing his priority was to form a cross-aisle government with traditional rivals the Social Democrats.

The 2019 election ended with the Social Democrats coming to power and forming a minority government after the ‘red bloc’ of parties on the left gained an overall majority.

Recent polls have suggested the election could be a knife-edge contest, with little to choose between the ‘red bloc’ of left-wing parties, led by Frederiken’s Social Democrats, and the opposing ‘blue bloc’ of right-wing parties.

An opinion poll conducted by Voxmeter on behalf of news wire Ritzau, published on Monday, put the red bloc on 86 of Denmark’s 179 seats in parliament, one ahead of the blue bloc, on 85 seats.

Of the remaining eight seats four were projected to go to the Moderates, meaning they could tip the scales in either direction.

The final four seats are allocated to representatives from parties in Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

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POLITICS

Danish economists say abolition of Great Prayer Day is ‘not necessary’

Leading economists in Denmark say that scrapping the Great Prayer Day holiday is not a necessary measure and that the potential economic benefits for the state are dubious.

Danish economists say abolition of Great Prayer Day is ‘not necessary’

Three economists writing in a column in political media Altinget said there was “nothing necessary” about the plan to scrap Great prayer Day.

“Is it better, then, to cancel the government’s planned tax cuts, to cut public spending or to use the opposition’s alternative proposal?”, write the three economists: Ulrik Beck, senior economist with thinktank Kraka; and Michael Svarer and Hans Jørgen Whitta-Jacobsen, professors in economics at Aarhus and Aalborg universities respectively and both former members of the Danish Economic Councils.

The three economists go on to write that the answer to the question comes down to preferences and priorities.

They state that an opposition plan to raise an annual three billion kroner, the amount the government says the Finance Ministry will raise by scrapping Great Prayer Day, is “a fraction better”.

The three governing parties – the Social Democrats, Liberals (Venstre) and Moderates – want to abolish springtime public holiday Great Prayer Day in a move they say will enable increased defence spending to meet Nato targets by 2030, three years ahead of the current schedule. A bill was tabled by the government earlier in January.

The policy has met with criticism from trade unionsthe church and opposition parties, while the military itself has also distanced itself from the plan.

READ ALSO: 

In an alternative proposal, the nine opposition parties say they can raise the money by diverting 1.25 billion kroner from the public investment budget, 1 billion kroner from a winter assistance programme which the parties say was over-financed, and savings on business support spending of 0.75 billion kroner.

The three economists write that the opposition proposal could hold back the welfare system in future, however. Additionally, a reduction in business support could harm companies.

Regarding the economic effect of scrapping Great Prayer Day, they state that although this has a potential monetary benefit, it is uncertain.

That is because people working in Denmark could choose to adjust their working hours by taking less overtime or “hours of interest” (interessetimer), they state.

In addition, collective bargaining agreements between trade unions and employers could eventually provide for an extra day off in response to emerging demand for this.

That would negate the effect of scrapping the holiday, the experts said.

READ ALSO: What is a Danish collective bargaining agreement?

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