What does Denmark’s Liberal party want from government negotiations?

After a poor showing in the last parliamentary election, the Liberal party (Venstre) has warmed to the idea of joining a central coalition government helmed by Social Democratic leader Mette Frederiksen.

What does Denmark’s Liberal party want from government negotiations?
Danish Liberal leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen is increasingly in the spotlight as talks to form a new government progress. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The Liberal (Venstre) party, the largest in the ‘blue bloc’ conservative group, ruled out governing with Frederiksen prior to the election, but has since moved to a more open stance.

Suggestions the Liberals may be prepared to enter government with the Social Democrats gained momentum following a Liberal party national conference last weekend.

After the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedlisten), one of the parties that gave Frederiksen’s red bloc a slim parliamentary majority, exited negotiations on Wednesday, pressure appears to be building on the Liberals on to find an agreement.

READ ALSO: ‘Mette Frederiksen has changed’: Danish left-wing parties exit government talks

However, Liberal leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said late on Wednesday that he “didn’t know” whether the Liberals and Social Democrats would govern together.

“We are tackling this task constructively. Regardless of how it ends, our wish is to have a government that takes the most responsible direction possible for Danish economy and Danish reforms,” he said.

“The more Liberal policies that characterise the poilitics that are practiced, the more responsible it will be. That’s in our interest,” he said.

Priorities for the Liberal Party include reforming labour supply and taxes, including an adjustment of the limit for the top tax bracket (topskat).

The Liberals want to raise the limit so fewer Danes pay the highest tax rate, which currently applies on money earned after the first 600,543 kroner a year. 

READ MORE: ‘Topskat’: What is Denmark’s high income tax bracket?

“This is what we want to test. Is there the will to reform that is needed if we are to future-proof our society?” Ellemann-Jensen said in comments to news wire Ritzau.

The Liberals suffered a bruising election, losing 20 seats and 10.1 percent of the vote share to leave the party with 20 seats in parliament. It remains the second-largest party after the Social Democrats, however.

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Moderate party downplays importance of joining new Danish government 

After another round of negotiations with acting Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Moderate leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen says it’s beside the point if his party joins Frederiksen’s vision of a ‘broad, central’ government.

Moderate party downplays importance of joining new Danish government 

Rasmussen, who was Prime Minister before Frederiksen when leader of the Liberal (Venstre) party, led the newly-formed Moderates into parliament in their first election on a platform of installing a centrist government.

The Moderates have a relatively strong hand in the negotiations with their 16 seats from 9.3 percent of the vote share in the election, which took place one month ago.

“For us, it’s not a separate ambition to be part of such a government,” Rasmussen said outside of the prime minister’s official residence at Marienborg on Wednesday.

“Whether we are in or not is less important. But we want to put ourselves in a position where we can influence the content. That’s what matters,” he said. 

“It strikes me that Mette Frederiksen and I go a long way towards sharing the analysis of what’s good for Denmark,” he added.

READ ALSO: What does Denmark’s Liberal party want from government negotiations?

Rasmussen has previously backed a potential government involving the Social Democrats and Liberals along with the Moderates, calling it an “excellent starting point”.

But he said on Wednesday that his party could lend support to a central coalition without being part of the government itself.

The Moderates could be influential “by forming the parliamentary basis for a government which consists of parties from both sides of the infamous political centre,” he said.

Although the centrist party is heavily involved in talks led by Frederiksen, it does not have decisive seats which could give either the left or right wings an overall majority. The left wing ‘red bloc’ took a single-seat victory in the November 1st election, meaning a left-wing government could be formed without the support of the Moderates.

But Frederiksen has eschewed the option of a government reliant on the support of the parties furthest to the left, the Red Green Alliance and Alternative, maintaining her pre-election pledge to seek a coalition across the centre.

There is no majority which could put a ‘blue bloc’ or conservative government in place.

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Danish election result