Centre-left party quits talks to form centrist Danish government

The Socialist People’s Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti, SF) on Wednesday withdrew from talks to form a new Danish government as a collaboration between the two largest parties draws closer.

Centre-left party quits talks to form centrist Danish government
SF leader Pia Olsen Dyhr confirmed her party will not continue in talks to form the next government in Denmark. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

SF leader Pia Olsen Dyhr confirmed to newspaper Politiken that her party was out of talks to form Denmark’s next government, which have been ongoing since the election on November 1st.

Dyhr said talks had “become too blue”, meaning conservative, in an apparent reference to the likely coming together of the Social Democrats and their erstwhile rivals on the right, the Liberal (Venstre) party, in a government agreement.

READ ALSO: Danish Liberal party demands ‘high ambitions’ from Social Democrats

Although its name invokes socialism, SF is better described as a social democratic party ideologically and was the party closest aligned with the Social Democrats, which governed Denmark in the previous election period from 2019 until November’s election.

SF and other left-wing parties propped up incumbent prime minister Mette Frederiksen’s minority government during the period, but Frederiksen now wants to work with parties to the right of the Social Democrats and across the political centre.

“These have been constructive negotiations but we are too far from each other on crucial points. This is the case when it comes to climate and nature,” Dyhr said.

“The Liberals are pulling in a different direction because they are close to the agricultural sector. And things are too blue when it comes to the underprivileged,” she said.

“These are some of the things we have fought for at the negotiation table and we have really not seen much movement in relation to [helping] the poorest families,” she said.

Some 11 elected parties have taken part in the talks with Frederiksen, who was nominated as the “royal investigator” or kongelig undersøger to lead negotiations to form government after the Social Democrats won the largest vote share at the election.

Five now remain: the Liberals, the centre-left Social Liberals (Radikale Venstre) and the centrist Moderates, along with right wing parties Liberal Alliance and the Danish People’s Party.

Although the two former parties have not technically left the negotiations, they have not recently been summoned for new talks.

READ ALSO: How close is Denmark to getting a new government?

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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