Denmark: Former PM returns to power with new minority government

Miro Guzzini , Sunday 28 Jun 2015

The new government will be eager to seek allies as it only has minimal support in parliament

løkke regering
The new Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen presenting his new minority government outside the royal palace. (Photo: AP)

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the head of the Danish Liberal Party, presented his new minority government to the queen on Sunday morning. The government's 17 ministers are all members of the Liberal Party, which obtained 19.5 percent of the vote in the election held on 18 June.

"We have a strong team, with many abilities. And they will be badly needed, for we are very conscious of the fact that we are a minority government," the new prime minister told Danish public television.

The election saw the right-wing parties gain a majority of seats in parliament. The Liberal Party became the third-largest party, behind both the ruling Social Democrats and the far-right Danish People's Party (DF), but Løkke Rasmussen still offered to form a government as the head of the traditionally largest party on the right.

The other right-wing parties proved difficult to negotiate with, however, and a majority government was ruled out by 21 June. Løkke Rasmussen then obtained a second mandate from the queen to form a minority government, but once again none of the parties could be convinced to join individually. The Conservative Party left the talks on 24 June, and DF followed suit two days later, major daily Politiken reports.

An ultra-minority government

This has now led to the formation of a government that has the direct support of less than 20 percent of parliament. Denmark has a long history of minority governments and consensus politics, however, and strong reliance on case-to-case party negotiations has proven durable in the past.

This could explain why Rasmussen, who headed a minority government from 2009 to 2011, is still confident that his new government will prove stable. "As far as I can tell from the political landscape, there are pretty good chances that we will be able to work together", he told Politiken.

Søren Pind, the new minister of justice, agreed, saying that he "cannot see who would want to topple us."

Nonetheless, the new government will have to reach far and wide for support for its newly published agenda. The plan shows that the government wants to decrease taxes on the wealthy, a concession to the small Liberal Alliance yet against the wishes of DF.

On the other hand, and against the Liberal Party's own campaign promises, the plan calls for increased public spending. This has been advocated by DF, but is against the Liberal Alliance's policies.

This difficulty of balancing conflicting allies led Bjarne Corydon, a Social Democrat and outgoing finance minister, to call the new government a "weak result" of chaotic negotiations, according to daily Information. His party would still be ready to collaborate with the government on specific issues, he added.

Further key elements of the government plan are a reduction of unemployment benefits, the continuation of the war against ISIS and new means to fight immigration.

Rasmussen has also announced that a referendum on Denmark's reservations in matters of justice in EU treaties would take place before the end of the year, DR reports.

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