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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Danish Conservative leader faces questions 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.

Danish Conservative leader faces questions 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.