Danish government: Rasmussen backs coalition with traditional rivals

The leader of the centrist Moderate party, Lars Løkke Rasmussen says he says a potential coalition involving his party and traditional rivals the Liberals and Social Democrats as an ‘excellent’ basis for a new government.

Danish government: Rasmussen backs coalition with traditional rivals
Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Jakob Engel-Schmidt of the Moderate party as talks to form the next government continue in Copenhagen. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

Rasmussen commented on the potential outcome after talks on Thursday, which focused on climate, environment and conversion to green energy.

“That would actually be a majority government. It shouldn’t be much smaller if we want to have a majority, but this would be an excellent basis,” he said.

READ ALSO: Have talks to form new Danish government gone quiet?

Rasmussen is in favour of a centre coalition involving parties from the traditionally opposing ‘red’ and ‘blue’ blocs or left and right wings.

A government including the Social Democrats, led by incumbent Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, and the Liberals (Venstre), led by Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, would fit with this.

While Frederiksen also wants to work across the centre, the Liberals rejected such a coalition during the election campaign, saying they wanted a more conventional ‘blue bloc’ or conservative government.

Ellemann-Jensen now appears to be coming under pressure from his own party and other conservative parties to reconfirm his position.

That comes after suggestions he could be willing to work with Frederiksen after previously saying he “didn’t trust” the incumbent PM as a result of the 2020 ‘mink scandal’ for which her government was strongly criticised and received official rebukes.

A coalition between the two parties and Rasmussen’s Moderates – which have not declared alignment with either bloc or specified a preferred PM – would have 86 seats.

That would give a one-seat majority in the 179-seat parliament if the four North Atlantic mandates from Greenland and the Faroe Islands are not included in the calculation. The North Atlantic mandates usually fall 3:1 in favour of the red bloc.

The three parties took the three largest vote shares in the November 1st election.

However, an agreement between the parties does not appear to be particularly close.

Both Ellemann-Jensen and Rasmussen have described the current talks as being more informal in nature than full negotiations.

A national congress in the Liberal party this weekend could help the party to form consensus over whether to change its approach to a potential government with Frederiksen, according to Rasmussen.

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Question marks remain about Søren Pape despite party support

The Danish Conservatives on Saturday expressed unanimous support for chairman Søren Pape Poulsen despite the very disappointing election result on November 1st.

Question marks remain about Søren Pape despite party support

The Danish Conservative party expressed unanimous support for chairman Søren Pape Poulsen on Saturday, despite a very disappointing election result on November 1st.

It seems that Pape has weathered the storm for the time being. That is the opinion of political commentator Hans Engell, “but whether he is the leading conservative candidate in four years can probably be questioned,” he says.

Engell points out that Pape and the Conservatives are currently in the process of negotiating with acting Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen about the possibility of entering into a broad coalition government that stretches across the Danish political spectrum, an idea that Pape categorically refused to consider during the election campaign.

After the election, however, he has opened up to the possibility of a broad government.

READ ALSO: Danish government: Rasmussen backs coalition with traditional rivals

“The Conservatives could theoretically be in a government in a month. It is clear that during that phase, the party always gives support to its leading figures,” Engell says. “But of course, this does not mean that the critics and those who wanted a more thorough analysis are completely silent.”

No obvious successor

Engell points out that there is currently no obvious successor to Pape. The leadership of the Conservatives gathered at Egelund Castle in North Zealand on Saturday to discuss the result of the general election.

When Pape announced his candidacy for Prime Minister on August 15th, support for the Conservatives increased significantly. Barely a week later, the party had the support of 16.5 percent of the voters in an opinion poll by the analysis institute Voxmeter.

However, there followed a series of personal stories surrounding Pape’s private life and political judgment, and in the end, the Conservatives ended up with just 5.5 percent of the vote in the election.

Engell points out that the issues that the Conservatives focused on did not manage to set the tone of the election campaign. This applies to, among other things, the mink case and tax breaks.

“Many of the topics they ran on did not affect the electorate at all,” Engell pointed out.