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WHAT CHANGES IN DENMARK

KEY POINTS: What changes about life in Denmark in November 2022?

A new government, MitID needed for online banking, the extension of border controls with Sweden and Germany and Christmas light switch-ons. Here are some of the things you can expect to see in Denmark in November.

Christmas lights in Aalborg
Christmas lights near Budolfi Cathedral in Aalborg, 2020. Christmas lights across Denmark will not be turned on all day this year, due to the energy crisis. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark forms a new government

Denmark’s parliamentary election takes place on November 1st and Denmark could find itself with a new Prime Minister.

The election decides the distribution of parliament’s 179 seats or mandates, mandater. Therefore, one of the two blocs can seal an overall election victory if it claims 90 or more mandates, giving it a majority. The ‘bloc’ classification, commonly referred to in Danish politics, broadly denotes whether a party or group of parties is on the right or left of centre.

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

Mette Frederiksen will continue as Prime Minister if she has a majority of Denmark’s 179 MPs behind her – her own party along with allied parties.

Otherwise, a new prime minister must be found. This is done through a process known as a dronningerunde (literally a ‘Queen’s round’). Here, the leader of each party has an audience with the Queen. After this, the Queen nominates a person to lead the new government or lead negotiations to form it.

READ MORE: The Danish vocabulary you’ll need to follow the election

Leader of the Conservatives, Søren Pape Poulsen, Liberal leader, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen and former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, leader of the newly formed Moderates, are all contenders to become PM instead of Mette Frederiksen, although Rasmussen has not officially declared himself as a candidate.

Because the outcome is likely to be close, projected negotiations could take place before a new government — and possible change of Prime Minister — is announced.

Once a new prime minister and government agreed, they are formally nominated by the Queen at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen before emerging and facing the public on the palace square.

READ MORE: Three candidates for PM in Denmark, and one wild card

Delayed payment of energy bills begins

A scheme to delay payment of excess energy bills begins on November 1st. It is one of the components of the government’s winter package in response to record energy prices.

The deal will allow energy bills exceeding 2021 prices to be paid at a delayed time and in instalments. The additional cost of the bill, not the entire bill, will be eligible for delayed payment. The option will be available to both businesses and individuals.

The model is voluntary, meaning bill payers choose whether to freeze payments. The government are footing the bill with energy companies in the intervening period. Customers need to contact energy companies to set up the repayment plan. Denmark’s largest energy company, Andel Energi has announced its digital registration for the scheme.

As a result of supply stoppages for Russian gas, on top of inflation, energy prices in Denmark are expected to be high throughout the winter.

The government has also announced it will set electricity tax close to zero and increase welfare payments for families.

READ MORE: Denmark announces new winter aid package for households

Border controls at Sweden and German borders extend into November

One of the last decisions made by the outgoing Swedish government was to inform the EU Commission that Sweden’s border controls on the Øresund strait between Sweden and Denmark will be extended in November.

Sweden’s border controls have been renewed the same way, every six months, since November 2015.

However Sweden’s new Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has called for the temporary border controls to be “made permanent”, a move which would contradict EU law.

“The more we reduce the problem of cross-border crime, the more open we can be to surrounding countries. But as it is now, we have big problems which need to be brought under control, both at the border and within Sweden,” Kristersson said

READ MORE: Denmark confirms latest extension of checks at German border

Denmark has meanwhile decided to extend the checks carried out by Danish police on the border with Germany, by another six months.

The border control is technically temporary but has been in place since January 2016. The latest extension begins on the 12th November and will take the checks into an eighth year.

Under the rules of the Schengen agreement, countries can place temporary border controls under exceptional circumstances. After a six-month period, the temporary checks must be renewed.

No more NemID for online banking

NemID will be officially turned off for secure platforms like banking and public services on November 1st. After this, only the new system, MitID can be used to log on.

Other platforms, like online shopping, will still accept NemID for now. The old system will be fully decommissioned on June 30th, 2023. 

READ ALSO: 

Daylight hours shorten

The clock change at the end of October means we are officially into the dark season. On the 1st November, day light hours come in at 9 hours and 10 minutes. This decreases for the rest of the month by 1 hour and 45 minutes.

However temperatures aren’t set to drop massively.

“We see the winter as being warmer than usual,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service that produces seasonal forecasts for the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).

Christmas is coming….but with fewer twinkles

The first Sunday in Advent is on November 27th this year. This is the date the Christmas lights will be switched on in the centre of Copenhagen — two weeks later than in 2021. Due to the energy crisis, the lights will be switched on between 3pm and 9pm rather than the usual 7am until midnight.

READ ALSO: Copenhagen to retain but reduce Christmas lights amid energy crisis

In Aarhus, the Christmas parade and light switch on will happen on 11th November but the lights will only be switched on for seven hours a day, compared to 16 hours in previous years.

In Odense, the city has chosen to wait a week to switch on the Christmas lights on 19th November. The lights will also be on for fewer hours than usual.

Salling Group has announced that its shopping centres in Aalborg and Aarhus will not be putting up their usual Christmas light decorations, and the same decision has been made by Hotel d’Angleterre in Copenhagen.

Middelfart, Esbjerg and Aarhus have all decided against opening their traditional outdoor ice rinks this winter as a result of high energy prices.

But the Christmas markets (julemarkeder), complete with the winter-warm alcoholic drink gløgg, will all still be going ahead, with many opening at the end of November. Tivoli’s Christmas season opens on November 19th.

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For members

WHAT CHANGES IN DENMARK

KEY POINTS: What changes about life in Denmark in February 2023?

Keep saving on gas use, a reminder to check your tax payments, movement on plans to scrap a public holiday, Fastelavn celebrations, Copenhagen Fashion Week and lighter days incoming. Here are some of the things to look out for in Denmark this February.

KEY POINTS: What changes about life in Denmark in February 2023?

Keep saving on gas

Denmark has cut the majority of its consumption of Russian gas but it is too early to disregard all energy saving measures, experts have advised.

“We’ve been good at cutting back. But if we stop saving now, we’ll run into problems next year,” Trine Villumsen Berling of the Danish Institute for International Studies told DR.

Much of the gas currently stored was originally supplied by Russia. Power plants still need to use gas to produce energy when weather conditions reduce wind output, Berling said.

“We need Danes to still have those good habits. We must remain aware of how we use energy and how much we turn on the heating for quite a while yet,” she said.

Check your tax payments

In January, the Tax Authority advised all taxpayers to check their preliminary returns (forskudsopgørelse), especially if there were changes to their circumstances in 2022. This can ensure you don’t have to pay a tax deficit when 2023’s tax returns are finalised next year.

The advice is still relevant in February (it’s still early in the year)) and you can read more information about it in our explainer.

The preliminary tax return can be viewed (and information corrected) by visiting the Skat (tax authority) website and signing in with MitID. The agency can also be contacted over the phone or in writing for guidance on the return and other tax matters.

The annual tax return statement (årsopgørelse) for 2022 will meanwhile be ready on the Skat website on March 13th. Here you can see whether you are due money back or paid too little in tax last year. The deadline for correcting the annual statement is May 1st.

READ MORE: Denmark’s tax authority to release annual returns on March 13th

Plans on abolishing public holiday move forward

The formal bill to scrap the Great Prayer Day public holiday, which is now in consultation, could be passed by the end of February but is facing significant resistance.

It’s at the first stage of the process before it becomes law and a speedy process means there is less time in which objections can be brought up against it in parliament.

The government’s ambition is to pass the law before collective bargaining agreements are voted on by trade unions in the spring. Negotiations for these have already begun with employer organisations in some sectors.

The three governing parties – the Social Democrats, Liberals (Venstre) and Moderates – want to abolish springtime public holiday Great Prayer Day from 2024, in a move they say will enable increased defence spending to meet Nato targets by 2030, three years ahead of the current schedule.

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

Fastelavn

Fastelavn is celebrated in Denmark every year on the Sunday before Shrove Tuesday, which this year is February 19th. Nurseries, kindergartens and schools may also celebrate the day in the week leading up to it and it adds some excitement to what can feel like a boring winter month. 

Some call it a Nordic Halloween. Children dress up, but unlike Halloween, they don’t have to be scary – any costume goes, so parents can raid the dressing up box for whatever they can find.

Once dressed up, the children form an orderly queue and take it in turns to hit a large barrel. It’s similar to piñata, but is called slå katten af tønden, which means hit the cat out of the barrel. It comes from a very old tradition when a poor cat would be placed in the barrel and the barrel hit with a stick until the cat escaped. The cat was then chased out of the town, with the idea it was taking bad luck away with it. 

Instead of a cat escaping, sweets now fall out of the barrel. The child who successfully frees the sweets, is named the Queen of Cats (Kattedronning). The child who takes down the last piece of barrel, is named King of cats (Kattekongen).

After barrel-hitting is complete, some children then go around their neighbours knocking on doors for sweets or money, or some people hold a little party.

Fastelavn also involves fastelavnsboller. These are sweet rolls covered in icing and filled with cream – there are many variations so try all you can. 

There’s also a Fastelavn song, that is guaranteed to stick in your head.

READ MORE: Fastelavn: What is the Danish childrens’ carnival all about?

Copenhagen Fashion Week

If you live in the capital, you may have already noticed the increased buzz around the centre. Copenhagen Fashion Week started on January 31st and runs until February 3rd. The biannual event attracts thousands of people to Copenhagen, as fashion is celebrated with exhibitions, street parties, mini-concerts and catwalk shows.

Lighter days are coming

February is still very much the depth of winter in Denmark but the days are slowly getting longer. The sun is now rising just after 8am and setting just before 5pm.

Nights remain longer than days until the spring equinox or jævndøgn in Danish, which occurs on March 20th this year.

Denmark’s dark winters aren’t as severe as in Sweden and Norway, which both experience polar nights – when the sun doesn’t rise at all for several weeks.

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