Great Prayer Day abolished by Danish parliament

The Local Denmark
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Great Prayer Day abolished by Danish parliament
A display in the Danish parliament shows the adoption of the bill to abolish Great Prayer Day. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The government’s bill to abolish the Great Prayer Day holiday was adopted following a vote in the Danish parliament on Tuesday.


After a debate lasting several hours, a majority in parliament voted to abolish Great Prayer Day effective from 2024.

That mean this year’s Great Prayer Day, on Friday May 5th, will be the last time the public is given a day off for the holiday, which has existed in Denmark for over three centuries.


The three parties in the coalition government – the Social Democrats, Liberals (Venstre) and Moderates – all voted for the bill, giving it a majority before any opposition votes were taken into account. One opposition party, the Social Liberals (Radikale Venstre) voted with the government.

The remaining opposition parties voted against the bill. It passed by 95 votes to 68.

Adoption of the unpopular proposal appeared a formality from Monday afternoon after the failure of an attempt by some opposition parties to force the bill to a national referendum.

A survey by institute Epinion, published by broadcaster DR on Tuesday morning, found that 70 percent of the Danish public opposes the abolition of Great Prayer Day.

No ministers or spokespersons from the coalition parties took to the speaker’s box to defend the bill during Tuesday’s debate, DR writes. Other parties – notably the left-wing Red Green Alliance and right-wing Danish People’s Party (DF) and Denmark Democrats – were vehement in their criticism of it.

DF’s spokesperson Pia Kjærsgaard promised to make the reintroduction of Great Prayer Day a future election pledge for her party, while Denmark Democrats leader Inger Støjberg said her party would not oppose a referendum on the question.

The government proposed scrapping Great Prayer Day in its December 2022 policy agreement. None of the coalition parties made any mention of the holiday in their manifestos for the November 2022 general election.

The three coalition parties say abolishing the springtime holiday will enable increased defence spending to meet Nato targets by 2030, three years ahead of the current schedule.

The policy has met with criticism from trade unions and the church, while the military has also distanced itself from the plan. Thousands of Danes took part in a demonstration against it outside parliament earlier this month.



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