The nine parties which are not part of the coalition government say they have found alternative financing which will enable Denmark to meet targets for additional defence spending without abolishing a public holiday.
The government has tabled a bill to formally abolish the springtime Great Prayer Holiday, in a move that it says is necessary for sustained and additional investment in the country’s military. The proposal has met with hefty criticism, including from the influential trade union confederation FH.
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The nine parties announced their alternative proposal in a joint statement on Thursday. The parties behind the proposal come from opposite ends of the political spectrum and include the Red Green Alliance, Alternative, Socialist People’s Party (SF), Social Liberals, Conservatives, Liberal Alliance, Denmark Democrats, Danish People’s Party and Nye Borgerlige.
On Tuesday, all of the nine parliamentary parties refused to comply with a government demand that they vote for the Great Prayer Day bill in order to be part of an upcoming defence agreement. The refusal is significant because national defence policy usually has consensus across parliament.
The nine parties urged the government to drop this demand, which has been characterised as an “entrance ticket” for negotiations on a defence agreement.
The nine opposition parties do not all oppose abolishing Great Prayer Day but are united in their rejection of the government’s tactic of attaching it to the defence spending plan.
“It is unreasonable to demand of negotiating parties a single possible option for financing before negotiations are called,” the statement says.
“Based on this, the nine parties now propose other financing options in the hope that the government will open entry to the upcoming defence negotiations,” it said.
“We have presented financing krone for krone. There is no longer any argument for attaching a defence settlement to Great Prayer Day. It is now up to the government whether it actually wants to work together so that defence isn’t taken as a hostage,” Conservative leader Søren Pape Poulsen told news wire Ritzau.
The nine parties say three elements of its proposal can raise three billion kroner, the amount the government says will be made by scrapping Great Prayer Day.
These include 1.25 billion from the public investment budget, 1 billion kroner from a winter assistance programme which the parties say was over-financed, and savings on business support spending of 0.75 billion kroner.