Negotiations for new three-party government drag on

Following the successful budget negotiations last week, prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen invited the Conservative Peoples Party and Liberal Alliance to join a minority government. They agreed, but have yet to finalise a new platform and division of cabinet responsibilities

Denmark is going to get a new three-party centre-right government. That is clear after PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen, of the Liberal Party (Venstre), announced last week that he had invited the Conservative Peoples Party (Konservative) and Liberal Alliance (LA) to replace the current Venstre minority government with a coalition of the three parties.

After accepting the invitation, negotiations for a new government platform kicked off at Marienborg, the official residence of the prime minister, on Monday.

Before announcing the negotiation invitations, Løkke held meetings with the other three party leaders of the right-wing blue bloc, to see if they could find some common ground on the issues that had so far brought the bloc into conflict – most notably LA’s demand that the rate of the top tax bracket, topskat, be reduced from 15% to 10%.

Venstre’s leadership is optimistic the three parties will be able to finalise a platform by the end of this week before presenting it to the Queen – a formality that is needed before a new government can take power.

According to Rasmussen, the platform will be a clean slate for all parties and not a continuation of the current government’s political line. For example, the controversial 2025 Plan has been taken off the table.

READ MORE: Tax and welfare cuts central to 2025 economic plan

“Its basically about formulating a foundation that we feel certain about, and we can work towards together. Not just for the rest of this political season, but for the next few years,” Løkke told DR after having finished the first preliminary meetings with the two parties at Marienborg on Monday.

As of Saturday afternoon, however, Denmark still doesn’t have a new government and negotiations are expected to run through the weekend.

No more top tax relief
Over the past year LA has threatened to topple the minority Venstre government – by withdrawing their support resulting in a majority opposed to Venstre’s leadership – if the government refused to agree to the topskat cut. But despite stating that it was an “ultimate” demand, LA leader Anders Samuelsen has already conceded that the demand won’t appear in the new platform.

“If we sign a new government platform, it will be a comprehensive plan of new politics and big ambitions. It’s still my hope that we will change the taxation in the top income bracket, that it will decrease fewer people will pay it,” Samuelsen told DR.

Justifying his flip-flop on topskat, Samuelsen subsequently explained that his party has kept their promise to voters, as they did end up toppling the government – technically speaking.

“If these negotiations succeed, then there is no longer a Venstre government. That’s what we promised – that the Venstre government wouldn’t survive if we didn’t get a five percent tax relief for the top earners,” Samuelsen told TV2 News.

Key Conservative issues are crucial
While only winning 34 out of 179 seats in the 2015 election, Venstre formed a government thanks to the support of the remaining parties in the blue bloc, which together secured a 90 seat majority.

While LA secured 13 seats, the Konservative only earned six, meaning they have much more to lose if their voters are dissatisfied with their performance in government.

READ MORE: Liberals and populists unite against the left

“Its crucial that there are a clear conservative imprint on the new platform,” Konservative leader, Søren Pape, told DR.

Konservative key issues include a strong military and police force, a green profile and security for homeowners. The party’s main goal, however, is ensuring that the political majority remains in the hands of the right wing blue bloc.

“Right now we are heading towards an election that might mean that Mette Frederiksen (leader of the Social Democrats) becomes prime minister. That isn’t the aim of the Konservative. Therefore we must see what we can contribute with,” Pape said, adding that he hopes to get three ministerial positions in the new government.

More ministers to come
According to several pundits, the government reshuffle will likely mean a reorganisation of the Danish ministries. Currently, the Venstre government is headed by just 16 ministers – the lowest number in more than 30 years, where the number of ministers have ranged from 19 to 24.

READ MORE: Denmark is rich enough

Speculations centre on the current Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment, which has traditionally been split into two ministries. Splitting the ministry up and handing over the environment portfolio to the Konservative, and agriculture portfolio to Liberal Alliance would be an obvious choice given the parties’ respective policy focuses.

Another candidate is the powerful Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is currently headed by Venstre vice-chairman, Kristian Jensen. During the previous Social Democrat government, the ministry was split between three ministers including a Minister for European Affairs and a minister for Foreign Development.


By Sophie Stenner Frahm

Facebook comments