Danish Liberal leader wants to see Frederiksen’s ‘will to reform’ in talks over government

The leader of the Liberal (Venstre) party, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, said he does not back a plan by the Moderate party to scrap the five Regional elected councils which govern Denmark’s public health services. Caretaker PM Mette Frederiksen also opposes the proposal.

Danish Liberal leader wants to see Frederiksen’s ‘will to reform’ in talks over government
Liberal leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen arrives for talks aimed at forming a new government. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The Moderates, led by the previous Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, want to reform the regionalised system of administration under which the public health system is currently operated.

Although the party could play a key role in talks aimed at finding common ground on which to form a government, it seems it might struggle to find any support from the two biggest parties in parliament, the Liberals and Frederiksen’s Social Democrats.

READ ALSO: Danish government negotiations: Frederiksen says next stage is to ’put things in writing’

“I don’t think the solution to the challenges faced by the health system are to undertake such an administrative restructuring,” Ellemann-Jensen said on his way to talks on Monday.

During the election campaign, the Liberals pledged to spend six billion kroner on health in 2023 and 2024.

That included a plan to offer an incentive of up to 20,000 kroner to health sector staff such as nurses, midwives and social carers if they do not leave their public sector jobs.

Ellemann-Jensen said he will “listen to what the government says” on the issue.

“We are coming to test them on the will to reform that the government demonstrated during the election campaign, or that they expressed. Is there a desire to reform in Denmark?”, he asked.

The Liberals stated prior to the election that they would not enter government in partnership with the Social Democrats, their traditional parliamentary rivals.

The election resulted in a significant setback for the centre-right party, which now has 23 seats, just over half of its total of 43 prior to the election.

Nevertheless, the Liberals remain the second-largest party in parliament and de facto leader of the conservative ‘blue bloc’.

The red bloc took a single-seat majority of 90 in the election. Since then, Ellemann-Jensen has not directly ruled out his party becoming a government partner.

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Danish election result

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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?