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2022 DANISH ELECTION

KEY POINTS: What are the main policies of the new Danish government?

A public holiday gets the chop, plans for an asylum centre in Rwanda, new climate targets and tax cuts are among several details of the platform for Denmark’s incoming government.

KEY POINTS: What are the main policies of the new Danish government?
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Liberal leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen and Moderate leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen present the platform for the new Danish government. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Danish party leaders on Wednesday presented the agreement between the Social Democrats, Moderates and Liberals that will put in place a new three-party government. We break down the key policy positions that form the government platform.

Farewell to popular public holiday

In a decision which seems unlikely to be popular amongst the general public, the new government proposes removing a public holiday from the national calendar.

The holiday, Great Prayer Day (Store Bededag) has existed since the 1600s and falls on the fourth Sunday after Easter, giving everyone who works in Denmark an extra long spring weekend.

The new government says it wants to use money saved by scrapping the holiday to increase spending on defence.

READ ALSO: Store Bededag: Why does Denmark have annual ‘Prayer Day’ holiday?

New target for climate neutrality

In what Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen calls an “ambitious climate act”, the new government wants to make Denmark climate-neutral by 2045 and reduce CO2 emissions nationally by 110 percent compared to 1990 levels.

Both targets set higher criteria than existing climate goals.

The government will also pursue the existing policy of introducing a CO2 tax on agriculture and the aviation industry.

Reform of tax, including top tax bracket

Several tax reforms are to be introduced which the government says will benefit people at both the top and bottom of the income scale.

A tax deduction for people in full time work, beskæftigelsesfradraget, will be bolstered, as will a special deduction for single parents.

Cuts to the top tax bracket, topskat, are also forthcoming in a sign of concessions to the Liberals, traditionally a party which favours low taxes.

The topskat bracket will be given two additional levels, meaning that the tax rate will be more graduated to increase as earnings go up.

We recently looked at how the existing topskat bracket works.

Plans for Rwanda asylum facility reworded

The former Social Democratic minority government had a long-term objective of moving part of Denmark’s refugee system offshore to a non-EU country – confirmed in 2021 as Rwanda.

Although the target has been kept, the new government appears to have adjusted its focus, saying a centre for asylum seekers outside of Europe should be established under the auspices of the EU or in partnership with other countries.

“The ambition related to an asylum centre is that we create a new asylum system. It is our clear aim that this will be set up – naturally, we want to do it in partnership with other countries or the EU,” Frederiksen said.

However, she added that such a centre could “ultimately” still be the result of a bilateral agreement between Denmark and Rwanda.

READ ALSO: Could a centrist government change Danish asylum plan?

University students face cuts in education reform

The new government plans to spend more money on vocational education programmes for their improvement, but will reduce the length of around half of university Master’s degree programmes, so that they take one year, not two, to complete.

Rules related to the state student grant, SU, will be tightened so that the right to the grant becomes more limited and available for a shorter period related to the time spent in education.

READ ALSO: Denmark plans to shorten university courses to save money

New distribution model for upper secondary school students

A new model to redistribute upper secondary school (gymnasium) students in accordance with their parents’ incomes in parts of Denmark has been scrapped.

The plan had been put in place by the previous government with the objective of ensuring an even mix of students with different backgrounds.

It was strongly opposed by conservative parties, notably the Liberals, and will be replaced by a new model based on transport time.

Cost of living help 

The government will put together an “inflation package” aimed at helping people struggling with high living costs caused by inflation.

This will include a new tax-free 5,000 kroner payment to senior citizens who receive the ældrecheck benefit. That is in addition to an already-agreed 5,000 kroner.

The rest of the cost-of-living package will focus on people who face drastic energy bill increases – primarily homes with independent gas heaters.

A pool of 300 million kroner will also be diverted to help vulnerable families and 50 million kroner to charities which provide help to the vulnerable at Christmas.

Family reunification

The incoming government could break with years of strict immigration laws by easing family reunification rules.

Specifically, the new government wants to change language criteria applied in family reunification cases.

It also wants to halve the so-called “bank guarantee” (bankgaranti), a requirement which demands couples deposit a large sum of money with municipalities while the foreign partner is granted residence under family reunification rules.

We have more detail on this in this article.

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POLITICS

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

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