Politics: Danish opposition parties hit out at Liberal leader over reshuffle

Ritzau/The Local
Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Politics: Danish opposition parties hit out at Liberal leader over reshuffle
Jakob Ellemann-Jensen (R) and Troels Lund Poulsen are swapping ministries after Ellemann-Jensen said he could no longer combine the positions of Liberal leader and defence minister. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

Opposition parties have accused Liberal (Venstre) party leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen of failing to take responsibility after he announced he would be leaving the defence ministry.


Liberal leader Ellemann-Jensen, who is also deputy prime minister, on Tuesday announced he was swapping ministerial roles with party colleague Troels Lund Poulsen, meaning that Poulsen becomes defence minister and Ellemann-Jensen is now economy minister.

Ellemann-Jensen returned from an extended spell of stress-related sick leave at the beginning of this month and Poulsen was acting defence minister during his absence.

READ ALSO: Danish Liberal leader steps down as defence minister

At a briefing on Tuesday Ellemann-Jensen said that he cannot continue as defence minister if he is to remain as Liberal party leader, and will therefore switch to the economy ministry in a reshuffle.

“This is a decision I made last week, after I came back from sick leave and have had the opportunity to get an oversight of the tasks at the defence ministry and in the multilateral government,” he said.

“If I as leader of the Liberals am to… fulfil my duties as leader and make the Liberals a relevant part of the government, I can’t be defence minister at the same time,” Ellemann-Jensen said.


The move has been criticised by opposition politicians including the leader of the right-wing Danish People’s Party (DF), Morten Messerschmidt.

“When a minister gets a bad situation or has problems, (now) you can just do a quick reshuffle with another minister,” Messerschmidt told news wire Ritzau in reference to incorrect information given by the defence ministry to parliament earlier this year over the purchase of 19 artillery cannons for Denmark’s military from Israeli company Elbit Systems.

Ellemann-Jensen recently apologised to parliament over the matter and backed an independent review.

“And that way you avoid facing responsibility in parliament,” Messerschmidt said.

The DF leader noted that a usual mechanism for scrutiny of ministers, a hearing in parliament, is now unavailable because Ellemann-Jensen is no longer at the relevant ministry.

“That’s why the Danish People’s Party last year proposed that if a minister is still part of the same government, we should still be able to ask questions. Including from previous appointments,” he said.


The centre-left Socialist People’s Party (SF) also expressed criticism of the reshuffle.

“Changing minister again causes chaos in the ministry and that worsens our ability to ask questions,” defence spokesperson for SF Anne Valentina Berthelsen said.

“If a man who has ambitions of being prime minister doesn’t think he can get a grip on the defence ministry in an issue like this, then I don’t know who can,” she said.

In comments made during Tuesday’s briefing, Ellemann-Jensen recognised the problems facing the defence ministry and said they were a factor in the decision to reshuffle ministers.

“I must be clear to everyone by now that a major tidy up is needed in all of the defence ministry’s business,” he said.

“I recognise that this is a big task and will need full time to resolve. That’s why Troels is being placed in the defence ministry. There’s a stack of bad cases. There must be focus on these cases. It won’t do to have a minister that’s also party leader,” he said.

He also said that the ministerial reshuffle was not related to his health.


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