28 June. – At 8.14 am, Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, appointed a day before, published a list of names for his minority government. At 10 am, he introduced new ministers to Queen Marghrete II in Amalienborg. The government programme was released the same day, stressing economic and social issues as key priorities. In foreign policy, the EU and Russia may now expect some setbacks.
The new government includes 17 people, all from the Liberal Party (Venstre), a leader of the blue bloc of centre-right and right-wing parties. Ten ministers already worked in government before (Rasmussen was Prime Minister in 2009-2011) while others are new faces, including Jorn Neergaard Larsen who has come from the Danish Confederation of Employers.
There are only five women (29%). Professor Anette Borchorst from Aalborg University in an interview with Politiko says that this means lower attention to the issue of gender equality. However, there are broad age groups: the youngest minister is at his 31 and the oldest is 70.
A new four-year programme, Together for the Future, was also presented. At a special press conference, Lars Lokke Rasmussen talked about tax freezes, new immigration legislation and crime prevention. His major announcement concerned a referendum on the EU Justice and Home Affairs opt-out that will take place before Christmas.
Besides, the programme provides details on other priorities, including lower taxes for low-wage workers, lower taxes for business (corporation tax will be reduced from 23.5% to 22%), boosting employment in private sector, and fight against organised crime and crimes committed by foreigners. The government will keep its pledge on spending 0.7% GNI on development aid.
However, it is already obvious that the government will struggle to realise all its plans. The Liberal Party has to rely on broad support from all its partners who already show publicly their disagreements on immigration and economic, social and foreign policy.
The biggest headache will be the Danish People’s Party that stands against changes of the country’s opt-out format and for the re-introduction of border controls similar to those in the UK. Their resistance may lead not only to the paralysis of government, but also to worsening relations with the EU.
In fact, the government itself can also be the source of disappointment for the EU. Despite attempts from Brussles to form a common, reliable agenda on immigration, Rasmussen is clearly acting against it. He appointed Inger Stojberg, known for her sharp criticism of immigrants, to be Immigration Minister. He also said that the government would introduce new legislation next week to reduce immigration.
The new government in Denmark is also critical of Russia. Its programme states that the country should contribute to growing military capacity of Nato and boost regional defence cooperation with in the Baltics and North Europe. Russia is mentioned alongside ISIS as one of the threats. The new Foreign Minister, Kristian Jensen, does not sound optimistic, too. He vowed for “determined and firm” response to Russia’s actions and criticised its human rights situation.