Denmark’s Conservative party quits talks to form government

The Danish Conservative party has left negotiations to form a new government out after weeks of talks with acting Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and the Social Democrats. 

Denmark’s Conservative party quits talks to form government
Danish Conservative leader Søren Pape Poulsen announced his party’s exit from talks to form a new government. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

Conservative leader Søren Pape Poulsen announced the departure in a Facebook post on Saturday.

“I was genuinely interested in seeing how much common ground we could find,” Poulsen wrote of the discussions between the two parties, which are usually part of opposing ‘blocs’ on the left and right wings of Danish politics.

“At the end of the day, I don’t think [joining a government with Frederiksen and the Social Democrats] is compatible with the promises we made in the election campaign and what I’ve said about such a government. Politics is also very much about credibility,” Poulsen wrote. 

The decision has the support of the Conservative parliamentary group, he also stated.

Before the November 1st election, the Conservatives rules out going into government with the Social Democrats, stating they would only back a ‘blue bloc’ government comprised solely of conservative parties.

But the party softened its stance following the election, in which it received a disappointing 5.5 percent of the vote share.

“I promised before the election that whoever becomes prime minister, my party will take a constructive approach to all negotiations with the ambition of making Denmark a better country,” Poulsen wrote in Saturday’s social media post.

The move to leave the talks by the Conservatives is a strategic one according to Christine Cordsen, political correspondent with broadcaster DR.

“If the Liberals [centre right party Venstre, ed.] end up joining the government — which is very likely —then Pape will have the opportunity to take on the role of opposition leader in the remnants of the blue bloc and perhaps use it to revive the Conservatives,” Cordsen said. 

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

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Denmark’s defence minister takes sick leave following illness

Denmark’s Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen is to take sick leave for an undetermined period, two months after leading the Liberal (Venstre) party into coalition government.

Denmark’s defence minister takes sick leave following illness

The 49-year-old was admitted briefly to hospital last week for “nausea”, just after returning from Ukraine.

“I was eager to go back to work immediately. But now that it’s been a few days I have to realise I’m not ready for this,” he said on Facebook.  “I have been unusually busy for a long time. Now my body is sending me a signal that it’s time to take a break, if not it’s going to end badly,” he said.

“The bottom line is that, on the advice of my doctor, I need to unplug for a while and take leave. And then I will return when I’m ready.”

Economy Minister Troels Lund Poulsen will fill in for Ellemann-Jensen during his absence, the government said.

His absence comes as Danes protest against government plans to abolish a public holiday, Great Prayer Day. The government says the plan will help fund the defence budget.

Ellemann-Jensen has led the Liberal party since late 2019. The party is traditionally the second largest in the Danish parliament and senior member of the ‘blue bloc’ alliance of conservative parties.

It suffered a poor result in the 2022 election with its 13 percent share of the vote representing 10 points less than its vote share in 2019. Ellemann-Jensen subsequently took the party into coalition government with two other parties including erstwhile rivals the Social Democrats.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s Social Democrats in worst opinion poll since 2015