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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New MPs in the Danish parliament lack political experience – but is that a bad thing?

The new Danish parliament is the most politically inexperienced one since the landslide election in 1973, according to the newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

New MPs in the Danish parliament lack political experience - but is that a bad thing?

The members of parliament (Folketing) who were elected or re-elected on November 1 have an average of 7.1 years of parliamentary experience.

Peter Bjerre Mortensen, a professor of political sciences at Aarhus University, told Jyllands-Posten that it is healthy for democracy when people with new experiences enter parliament.

But he also sees a risk if too many new faces appear.

“It takes a long time to familiarize yourself with the issues in a given policy area, and if you have a large turnover in the parliament, one of the consequences can be that it takes a long time before the politicians get down to the issues,” he said.

He has previously written a book about the problems related to taxes in Denmark. While working on the book, he and a colleague found, among other things, that there was a large turnover in the Danish parliament’s tax committee.

Less experienced

According to Jyllands-Posten, the average of years of parliamentary experience in the Danish parliament has decreased by more than half a year since the general election in 2019.

And this is despite the fact that the politicians who were re-elected have gained three and a half years more experience since the last election.

The development is partly due to the fact that many politicians who have been in the Danish parliament for many years did not stand for election again.

Furthermore, some parties have put forward new MPs who have never sat in the Folketing before.