What would Danish centre coalition mean for conservative ‘blue bloc’?

The leader of the right-wing Liberal Alliance party on Monday said his counterpart in the Liberal (Venstre) party is ‘putting to death’ the ‘blue bloc’ alliance of conservative parties by flirting with a potential coalition government with the centre-left.

What would Danish centre coalition mean for conservative ‘blue bloc’?
Liberal Alliance leader Alex Vanopslagh says the blue bloc will be weakened if the Liberal party decides to enter a centre coalition. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

Liberal Alliance leader Alex Vanopslagh suggested the long established ‘blue bloc’ of allied conservative parties in Danish politics is under existential threat in comments to media on Monday, as negotiations to form a new government continue.

The libertarian party leader aimed a pointed barb at Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, the leader of the Liberal (Venstre) party.

Vanopslagh said Ellemann-Jensen was “about to put the blue bloc to death” in comments to media.

Suggestions the Liberals may be prepared to enter government with the Social Democrats – their traditional rivals for the prime minister’s office – have gained momentum following a Liberal party national conference during the weekend.

In a speech during the Liberal conference, Ellemann-Jensen said his party must “stand on its own accord” and that there was “not a unified conservative project amongst the blue parties”.

He also said that the Liberals would consider whether to go into government in coalition with the Social Democrats.

That would break with the line taken by Ellemann-Jensen in the run-up to the election earlier this month, when he said he would not work with the Social Democratic leader, incumbent Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

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

Although the ‘red bloc’ of left wing parties won a majority by a single seat at the election, Frederiksen has continued to follow a pre-election pledged to attempt to form a centre coalition.

The ‘blue bloc’ parties won only 72 seats compared to the red bloc’s 90, with the centrist Moderates taking 14 seats.

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

Vanopslagh recognised that a decision to govern across the centre for Ellemann-Jensen could rest on how much Liberal policy he might be able to implement in return.

“But it’s certain that if he goes into a [Social Democrat-Liberal] government, and the Liberals only implement their election pledges, which were basically Social Democratic politics, I think that this would be failing conservative Denmark,” he said.

Other parties – including far right parties the Danish People’s Party and Nye Borgerlige – appeared to be less pessimistic about the future of a united blue bloc.

Danish People’s Party leader Morten Messerschmidt said he understood the Liberals would seek to gain political influence through discussions with the Social Democrats.

Messerschmidt also said he did not agree that Ellemann-Jensen was putting the blue bloc “to death”.

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Moderate party downplays importance of joining new Danish government 

After another round of negotiations with acting Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Moderate leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen says it’s beside the point if his party joins Frederiksen’s vision of a ‘broad, central’ government.

Moderate party downplays importance of joining new Danish government 

Rasmussen, who was Prime Minister before Frederiksen when leader of the Liberal (Venstre) party, led the newly-formed Moderates into parliament in their first election on a platform of installing a centrist government.

The Moderates have a relatively strong hand in the negotiations with their 16 seats from 9.3 percent of the vote share in the election, which took place one month ago.

“For us, it’s not a separate ambition to be part of such a government,” Rasmussen said outside of the prime minister’s official residence at Marienborg on Wednesday.

“Whether we are in or not is less important. But we want to put ourselves in a position where we can influence the content. That’s what matters,” he said. 

“It strikes me that Mette Frederiksen and I go a long way towards sharing the analysis of what’s good for Denmark,” he added.

READ ALSO: What does Denmark’s Liberal party want from government negotiations?

Rasmussen has previously backed a potential government involving the Social Democrats and Liberals along with the Moderates, calling it an “excellent starting point”.

But he said on Wednesday that his party could lend support to a central coalition without being part of the government itself.

The Moderates could be influential “by forming the parliamentary basis for a government which consists of parties from both sides of the infamous political centre,” he said.

Although the centrist party is heavily involved in talks led by Frederiksen, it does not have decisive seats which could give either the left or right wings an overall majority. The left wing ‘red bloc’ took a single-seat victory in the November 1st election, meaning a left-wing government could be formed without the support of the Moderates.

But Frederiksen has eschewed the option of a government reliant on the support of the parties furthest to the left, the Red Green Alliance and Alternative, maintaining her pre-election pledge to seek a coalition across the centre.

There is no majority which could put a ‘blue bloc’ or conservative government in place.

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