Today in Denmark For Members

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Thursday

Elizabeth Anne Brown
Elizabeth Anne Brown - [email protected]
Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Thursday
PM Mette Frederiksen's plan to strike a public holiday is facing opposition from nine political parties, a major trade union, and the church. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen

Trade unions demanding a referendum for a public holiday, opposition parties scrambling to find alternative funding, and a deadline to agree are among the top news stories in Denmark on Thursday.


Resistance to Great Prayer Day (Store bededag) proposal continues...

The government's plan to eliminate a public holiday in May to boost funds for the military has drawn the ire of trade union leaders who see it as an infringement on the Danish economic model. Now, they're calling for a public referendum to decide the holiday's fate. 


The Danish Trade Union Confederation (Fagbevægelsens Hovedorganisation) has asked its 1.3 million members to pressure the government for a referendum, broadcaster TV2 reports. An online petition gathered thousands of signatures on its first day before a hacker attack derailed it earlier this week, a press release from the trade union said. 

However, there's not a totally united front among Denmark's unions. Lederne, a trade union that says it represents 130,000 managers across Denmark, insists asking for a referendum is irresponsible and "gambling with representative democracy," Bodil Nordestgaard Ismiris told TV2. 

READ MORE: Danish trade unions demand referendum over Great Prayer Day abolition

...while opposition parties propose alternatives to keep the holiday... 

There are other ways to raise money for defense spending without tossing a public holiday, according to a coalition of nine parties outside the government. 

The coalition parties — Socialist People's Party (SF), Denmark Democrats, Liberal Alliance, the Conservative People's Party, Social Liberals (Radikale), Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten), Alternative, Danish People's Party and New Right (Nye Borgerlige) — have presented a list of alternative funding sources, news agency Ritzau reports. 

The parties say they've cobbled together 3 billion kroner — the amount the government says could be raised by cutting the holiday — from "prioritizing public investment," last year's agreement on winter aid, and whittling down the business support schemes, according to Ritzau. 

READ MORE: Danish government sues EU over minimum wage 

...and the government holds defense negotiations hostage 

The SVM government, or the Social Democrat-Liberal-Moderate government helmed by Mette Frederiksen, says negotiations for the country's multi-year defense spending can't begin until parties agree to abolish the Great Prayer Day. 

Several parties see the gambit as bully tactics, Ritzau writes. 


Last week, minister of defense Jakob Ellemann-Jensen gave three parties — the Social Liberals, Socialist People's Party, and Conservatives — a deadline of January 20th to make their decision. 

"I hope that the government takes the opportunity to climb down from the tree and recognize that the abolition of the Great Prayer Days is obviously not the only way to finance the necessary boost to our defense," Inger Støjberg of the Denmark Democrats told broadcaster DR. 


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also