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

After a poor showing in the last parliamentary election, the Liberal party (Venstre) has warmed to the idea of joining a central coalition government helmed by Social Democratic leader Mette Frederiksen.

What does Denmark’s Liberal party want from government negotiations?
Danish Liberal leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen is increasingly in the spotlight as talks to form a new government progress. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The Liberal (Venstre) party, the largest in the ‘blue bloc’ conservative group, ruled out governing with Frederiksen prior to the election, but has since moved to a more open stance.

Suggestions the Liberals may be prepared to enter government with the Social Democrats gained momentum following a Liberal party national conference last weekend.

After the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedlisten), one of the parties that gave Frederiksen’s red bloc a slim parliamentary majority, exited negotiations on Wednesday, pressure appears to be building on the Liberals on to find an agreement.

READ ALSO: ‘Mette Frederiksen has changed’: Danish left-wing parties exit government talks

However, Liberal leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said late on Wednesday that he “didn’t know” whether the Liberals and Social Democrats would govern together.

“We are tackling this task constructively. Regardless of how it ends, our wish is to have a government that takes the most responsible direction possible for Danish economy and Danish reforms,” he said.

“The more Liberal policies that characterise the poilitics that are practiced, the more responsible it will be. That’s in our interest,” he said.

Priorities for the Liberal Party include reforming labour supply and taxes, including an adjustment of the limit for the top tax bracket (topskat).

The Liberals want to raise the limit so fewer Danes pay the highest tax rate, which currently applies on money earned after the first 600,543 kroner a year. 

READ MORE: ‘Topskat’: What is Denmark’s high income tax bracket?

“This is what we want to test. Is there the will to reform that is needed if we are to future-proof our society?” Ellemann-Jensen said in comments to news wire Ritzau.

The Liberals suffered a bruising election, losing 20 seats and 10.1 percent of the vote share to leave the party with 20 seats in parliament. It remains the second-largest party after the Social Democrats, however.

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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?