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Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Thursday

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.

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

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. 

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For members


Today in Denmark: a roundup of the day’s news on Tuesday

Danish extremist barred from UK, Islamic State sisters lose case against Denmark, Denmark only second happiest country, and home sales in Denmark at lowest level since 2013.

Today in Denmark: a roundup of the day's news on Tuesday

Rasmus Paludan barred from entering UK 

The Danish anti-Islamic extremist Rasmus Paludan had been barred from entering the UK after it emerged that he planned to burn copies of the Quran in the city of Wakefield. 

The UK’s security minister, Tom Tugendhat, told the UK parliament that Paludan has been added to the UK’s “warnings index” after he announced his plans to ban a Quran in the city to mark the start of Ramadan on Wednesday and “will not be allowed access” to the country.

“His travel to the United Kingdom would not be conducive with the public good and he will not be allowed access,” he said, according to The Guardian newspaper.  

Danish vocab: adgang – access 

Islamic State twin sisters lose case against Denmark 

A court in Copenhagen on Monday acquitted Denmark’s immigration ministry for stripping two twin sisters of their Danish citizenship in 2020. 

The sisters were born in Denmark to Somali refugees, and then grew up in the UK before going to Syria to join the Islamic state caliphate in 2014, aged 16. The two are now held in the al-Roj prison camp in Kurdish-held northern Syria. 

The sentence is conditional on the women not becoming stateless.

In 2020, ministry said that the sisters were also Somali citizens and therefore would not be left stateless, but their lawyer, Eddie Omar Rosenberg Khawaja, said that the law in Somalia prohibits dual citizenship, meaning the two had lost their Somali citizenship automatically on becoming Danish citizens at aged four. 

He plans to appeal the judgement. 

Danish vocab: tvillingesøstre – twin sisters

Home sales in Denmark sink to lowest level since 2013

The number of home sales in Denmark fell over the last three months to the lowest level since the start of 2013, when the country was still emerging from a protracted housing slump.

Only 9,931 homes were sold in the last three months of 2022, according to the latest figures from the trade body Finance Denmark, the lowest number for 39 three-month periods. At the same time prices have fallen back to the levels they were at at the end of 2020. 

Prices of apartments fell by 7.2 percent last three months of the year compared to the same period in 2021, while prices for detached houses fell by 6.3 percent.

Danish vocab: bolighandler – home sales

World’s second happiest country: Denmark loses out to Finland again

Denmark is listed at number two on this year’s World Happiness Report, coming second to Finland for the second year in a row.

The UN’s World Happiness Report, published on Monday, puts Denmark second on its national happiness ranking.

Finland takes the title of world’s happiest nation, once closely associated with Denmark, for the sixth year in a row.

The Danish second place is the same as its 2022 ranking and one spot better than in 2021. Denmark once took first place regularly, but this has not happened since 2016. Denmark was also second behind Finland in 2019.