Denmark’s new prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, will on Sunday (28 June) announce that he will lead a liberal minority government over the next four years, as government coalition talks with other right-wing parties have collapsed.
An alliance of right-wing parties won the Danish general election on 18 June, marked by the dramatic rise of the far-right Danish People’s Party, which became the country’s second biggest political force.
The right-wing parties consisting of the Liberals, the libertarian Liberal Alliance, the Conservatives and the Danish People’s Party won the 90 seats necessary to have a majority in the Danish parliament. For a little more than a week, Rasmussen has been negotiating mainly with those parties to see if he could find fertile ground to form a coalition government.
Commentators have already said that Rasmussen’s liberal government will be the weakest in 40 years, and some exect the government to last less than 18 months. With only 34 seats in Parliament, the government would have to secure almost 60 more mandates every time it wants to pass a law.
“I’m very conscious that the Liberal Party-led government is not only a small minority government, but a very small minority government,” Rasmussen said on Friday (26 June).
Rasmussen was keen to get the Danish People’s Party onboard, as this would have made his government stronger, but in the end the parties were too divided, especially on issues such as tightening of immigration laws, eurosceptic foreign policies including systematic border controls, increased public spending and welfare benefits as the prize for joining a government.
While Rasmussen would agree to strengthening the rules for immigration, the parties could not agree on the social polices and dramatic changes to Denmark’s EU affairs policies.
During the negotiations, the Danish People’s Party pushed for a reintroduction of the border controls, which were set up when the Liberals were last in government back in 2010. The border controls breached the Schengen rules of free flow across borders, and the controls were halted a year later when Denmark’s next centre-left government took office.
The Liberal Party is no longer in favour of border controls if these go against the Schengen rules, Rasmussen has stated.
“I have to say that this kind of control has to respect our Schengen agreement. With the knowledge we have now, we cannot meet the proposal by the Danish People’s Party and still live up to our EU-legal obligations,” Rasmussen said.
Still, the People’s Party is expected to become highly influential over the next four years with currently 37 out of 179 seats in the parliament.
The Liberals will support British Prime Minister David Cameron’s push for EU reform related to limiting benefits for EU migrants, but how much further the government will go in its support for his plans, remains to be seen.