Denmark gets new left-wing PM with plans to invest in welfare state

  27 June 2019    Read: 820
Denmark gets new left-wing PM with plans to invest in welfare state

A new left-wing government has taken power in Denmark on a programme of increasing welfare benefits and softening immigration restrictions.

Mette Frederiksen, of the Social Democrats, is to become country’s youngest ever prime minister at 41. Her party will govern as a single party minority, but will rely on the support of the Socialist People’s Party, the Red-Green Alliance and the Social-Liberal Party to pass its legislative programme.

“It is with great pleasure I can announce that, after three weeks of negotiations, we have a majority to form a new government,” Ms Frederiksen said on Tuesday.

The Danish Social Democrats are notable among the European centre-left for taking a particularly hard line on immigration – including during the most recent election campaign. Their vote share declined, however, and the other parties supporting their government have insisted on pro-immigration measures.

Changes to immigration rules planned in the government agreement include ditching a controversial plan proposed by the previous centre-right liberal government to concentrate foreign criminals on an island prison.

The government will also bring in a binding law to reduce carbon emissions, allow more foreign labour into the country, and shore up the welfare state with the aim of reducing growing inequality.

The left-wing group of parties won a majority during elections, during which support for the far-right Danish People’s Party also declined dramatically.

Both the left-wing Socialist People’s Party and the Social Liberals, who are supporting the minority government, doubled their haul of seats. The Red-Greens, the other party supporting the government, stayed relatively flat.

Denmark is the third Nordic country this year to form a left-of-centre government. In January, Sweden’s Social Democratic prime minister Stefan Lofven secured a second term with the support of Greens, Liberals, and Centre Party. Earlier this month, Finland also got a new five-party left-wing coalition government which vowed to end austerity, increase investment, and set an ambitious target of decarbonising its economy.

Minority governments are the norm in Denmark, where single-party majorities in parliament are rare and formal coalition agreements less common than in other continental European countries.

At an EU level, the new government shifts the balance of power on the European Council: Denmark’s outgoing prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen sat with the liberal ALDE group of leaders, though his party has centre-right sympathies.

The Social Liberals, who support the existing government, were previously led by EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager, a candidate for European Commission president. The new prime minister, Ms Frederiksen, represents another seat on the council for the Socialist Group, which in the last year has also benefited from new governments in Finland and Spain.


The Independent

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