Denmark poised to present new coalition government

Danish party leaders will on Wednesday present the agreement between the Social Democrats, Moderates and Liberals that forms the basis for a new three-party government.

Denmark poised to present new coalition government
The Danish prime minister's residence, Marienborg, from where the new government will be presented on Wednesday. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark will finally have a new government six weeks after inconclusive elections with a left-right alliance forged after tortuous negotiations, prime minister Mette Frederiksen said Tuesday evening.

Frederiksen told reporters that the political alliance was “what our country needs”, following a narrow election victory for her Social Democrats in legislative elections on November 1st.

“Both because of the crises we face — inflation, war in Europe — but also because we have to make decisions that force us to look at things differently,” she said.

The new government team will be announced on Thursday, she said, “made up of the Social Democrats, the Liberals and the Moderates”.

She spoke to the press after informing Queen Margrethe of the alliance.

Frederiksen said the new government would have “a lot of compromises, but above all, a lot of ambitions”.

Earlier on Tuesday, the centre-left Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party, which was strongly tipped to be part of the new coalition government, quit negotiations at the final hurdle, citing policy differences over climate and children’s welfare.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s Social Democrats to be only ‘red bloc’ party in new centrist government

“We are in totally new and unchartered territory,” Robert Klemmensen, professor of political science at Lund University, told AFP.

“It’s extremely surprising — no one thought it would be possible to form this government.”

The last coalition government between the Social Democrats and the Liberals lasted just nine months, between 1978 and 1979.

But the Social Democrats — used to leading minority governments — are by far the largest party with 50 seats out of the 179 in Parliament.

While her government was largely hailed for handling the Covid-19 pandemic, the November election was triggered by the country’s so-called mink crisis.

The affair erupted after the government decided in November 2020 to cull the country’s 15 million minks over fears of a mutated strain of the novel coronavirus.

The decision turned out to be illegal, and the Social Liberal party propping up Frederiksen’s minority government threatened to topple it unless she called early elections to regain voters’ confidence.

The Social Liberals paid a price for the gamble, losing nine of their 16 seats.

In contrast it was the Social Democrats’ best election outcome in two decades, and allowed Frederiksen to enter negotiations from a position of strength.

Frederiksen and her Social Democrats had said even before the vote that they wanted to govern beyond traditional divisions.

They had to negotiate with the main Danish party on the political right, the Liberal Party, and the newly-formed centrist party, the Moderates, created by former prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen.

The Moderates won more than nine percent of votes and Rasmussen insisted he wanted to be “the bridge” between the left and right.

The far-right has heavily influenced Danish politics in recent decades — but three populist parties together won just 14.4 percent of votes and have had little influence on the negotiations.

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Danish government split over repatriation of women and children from Syria

Only one of the three parties in Denmark’s coalition government has stated it wants to repatriate women with national connections to Denmark from Kurdish-run prison camps in Syria.

Danish government split over repatriation of women and children from Syria

The Moderate party, one of the junior parties in the coalition, wants Danish children to be repatriated from the al-Roj prison camp in northern Syria, even if it means their mothers are evacuated with them.

The other two parties, the Social Democrats and Liberals (Venstre), still oppose bringing the women back to Denmark.

The two latter parties have stated that they only want to evacuate the children and not the mothers, who are in the camps because they have been sympathisers of the Islamic State (Isis) terror group or spouses of Isis militants.

As such, the government is split over the question of whether to retrieve the five children and three mothers from the camp, where they have now been marooned for several years.

Human rights organisations have in the past expressed concerns over the conditions at the prison camps and Denmark has faced criticism for not evacuating children there who have connections to Denmark.


Current government policy does not evacuate children from the two camps without their mothers and will not evacuate mothers if their Danish citizenship has been revoked.

A recent headline case saw a mother from the camp win an appeal against a Danish immigration ministry decision to revoke her citizenship, meaning she now has the right to be evacuated. She was expected to be prosecuted by Denmark under terrorism laws on her return to the country.

Denmark’s Scandinavian neighbour Norway on Wednesday repatriated two sisters who went to Syria as teenagers as well as their three children, citing abysmal conditions in the camp where they were housed.

Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, leader of the Moderate party, said at a parliamentary committee hearing on Wednesday that the government will state its agreed position on the issue “soon”, news wire Ritzau reports.

“The government will make a decision on the government’s position on the basis of the updated government policy position. And I expect we will do that soon,” he said.

Rasmussen said in January that the government had asked the relevant authorities to provide up-to-date information related to the Danish children who remain in the camps.

That information is expected to form the “policy position” (beslutningsgrundlag) referred to by Rasmussen in his committee comments.