Government with Social Democrats is favoured choice of rival ex-PM Rasmussen

The governing Social Democrats should form a coalition across the centre according to former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, an erstwhile rival.

Government with Social Democrats is favoured choice of rival ex-PM Rasmussen
A Lars Løkke Rasmussen election poster with the slogan "change from the centre". Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Rasmussen, leader of the Moderate party, told media Zetland that the Social Democrats should be part of a new government after the November 1st election in an interview with media Zetland.

The ex-PM’s comments are important because they appear to increase the possibility of such a coalition becoming reality, an otherwise unlikely eventuality under Denmark’s established ‘bloc politics’ system.

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

The Social Democrats, led by incumbent PM Mette Frederiksen, would normally be a rival party to Rasmussen, who led the centre-right Liberal (Venstre) party when he was prime minister from 2009-11 and 2015-19.

He left the Liberals and formed the Moderates in 2020, and has since advocated more cross-bloc collaboration in Danish politics.

Because he has not committed his new party to either of the traditional competing factions – the ‘red’ or ‘blue’ blocs – he has kept his options open and could decide to work with either side to form a government.

Analysts have however speculated that he is most likely to use that position as trade-off for more influence in a ‘blue bloc’ government agreement, should conservative parties gain a majority at the election.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s former PM Rasmussen on course for election surprise in poll

His comments on working with the Social Democrats appear to be the strongest suggestion so far that he could decide to work with his erstwhile rivals.

“I have reached the conclusion that we need to have the Social Democrats involved [in government]. But the Social Democrats attached to the left wing cannot deliver what is needed,” he said to Zetland.

“And there we need to eke out a stable, steady political partnership across the famous centre,” he said.

Previously, Rasmussen has said he would work with a smaller centre-left party, the Social Liberals, in a centre coalition, but his overtures to the Social Democrats appear to firm up his position.

Recent polls put Rasmussen’s party on around 9 percent of the vote share, a strong increase on earlier polls that would give them a potentially decisive 17 seats in parliament.

Frederiksen said at the beginning of the election campaign that her priority was to form a centre coalition, rather than to only work with red bloc parties as the Social Democrats would usually be expected to do.

She named two parties on the left, the Social Liberals and Socialist People’s Party, and two on the right – the Conservatives and Liberals – as potential government partners. She did not mention the Moderates or Rasmussen.

The Conservatives and Liberals have both stated they do not wish to go into government with Frederiksen.

On Friday, Frederiksen called her predecessor’s view that the Social Democrats should be in government “positive”.

“I naturally think it’s positive. I actually think I would take this opportunity to encourage [Liberal and Conservative leaders] Jakob Ellemann-Jensen and Søren Pape Poulsen to reassess their very clear rejection of a broad partnership,” she said to journalists in Brussels, where she is currently attending an EU summit.

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Lawyers criticise Danish parliament for ‘special treatment’ of party leader

Two lawyers have accused parliament of double standards for deciding not to legally pursue Alex Vanopslagh, the leader of the Liberal Alliance party, after he was found to have breached rules relating to apartments provided to MPs.

Lawyers criticise Danish parliament for ‘special treatment’ of party leader

Parliament’s decision not to take Vanopslagh’s case to the courts suggests that the public and politicians are not equal before the law, according to two lawyers who spoke to broadcaster DR.

As an elected member of parliament, Liberal Alliance leader Vanopslagh was provided with a free apartment in Copenhagen and given parliamentary subsidies for “double household” (dobbelt husførelse) because he was registered as living at an address in Struer, West Jutland.

It later emerged he did not genuinely use the Struer address as his home and had thereby broken the rules. He later paid back the subsidies in full and returned the Copenhagen apartment.

“I’m not for one second in doubt that if this had been a municipal case, the municipality would have asked for the money back and reported him to the police,” lawyer Mads Pramming, a benefit fraud specialist, told broadcaster DR.

In 2019, parliament – including Liberal Alliance – voted for stricter rules on benefit fraud, including obliging municipalities to report certain types of cases to the police.

“It looks a bit funny that parliament is enacting strict control to prevent the public being paid money they are not entitled to, and giving municipalities an obligation to report it. And when it then comes to parliament itself, things are a lot less strict,” Pramming told DR.

Struer Municipality has ruled that Vanopslagh broke CPR (central person registration) rules by not living in Struer enough between 2020 and 2022 for it to be deemed his actual residence, as he claimed at the time.

Two left-wing parties, Red Green Alliance and Alternative, have called for the Præsidium – speaker’s council – in parliament to consider whether Vanopslagh should be prosecuted over the issue.

The speaker of parliament, Søren Gade, has told DR that the case will not be taken further. A previous case from 2015 has been cited as precedent for the decision.

A second lawyer, Michael Bjørn Hansen, called that stance “absurd” in comments to the broadcaster. Hansen also has expertise in benefit fraud cases.

“Based on some kind of objective consideration, this is certainly benefit fraud. Because he has cheated on some rules and received public benefits which he is not entitled to,” he said.

Equal status before the law “is not present here” unless parliament files a report with police, he argued.

“This is different to the demands parliament is making on municipalities,” he said.

The Præsidium is responsible for managing Denmark’s 179 lawmakers. Five members of parliament sit on the council, with the speaker being the senior member.

Vanopslagh has admitted to wrongdoing in the “double home” scandal and said his knowledge of the rules had been lacking.

“It’s my fault, I made a mistake. But other people make the judgement and say what I have to pay back,” he said earlier this week.

A number of legal experts previously told newspaper Dagbladet Information that the matter should be investigated by the police.

Vanopslagh received a total of around 75,000 kroner to which he was not entitled, according to DR.