Rasmus Jarlov is worried about his city. As a member of the Copenhagen Ciity Council, and the Konservative mayoral candidate in the upcoming local election, Jarlov and his party want to bring city businesses and residents back into focus to stop what they see as the capital city’s dangerous decline in recent years.
“Copenhagen is very close to becoming the Nordic poorhouse,” he said, after a study ranked the city near the bottom in initiatives to encourage growth and jobs. “It is an economic disaster and a problem that affects not only Copenhagen, but has consequences for the entire country.”
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Jarlov, 36, has been on the City Council since 2009. His experience in the business world created a strong desire to represent a sector that he feels is not being supported by the current government.
Jarlov said that businesses are driven away by the city’s high tax rates and excessive bureaucracy, which he says makes it difficult to run a business “other than a bicycle shop” in Copenhagen.
The taxes also discourage visitors to the city.
“Tourists are staying away from Copenhagen because of high taxes and prices and because excessive amounts of roadwork are rendering the city unattractive and difficult to navigate through,” he said.
Jarlov has been an outspoken critic of favouring bikes over cars in the city.
He has accused the members of the council of running what he called a “smear campaign” against car owners.
“They have demonised carpenters who need to transport their tools and others who need to use their cars for their jobs and their lives – all in the name of political correctness,” he said. “They keep blocking roads and cutting out more and more parking places, and businesses tell me that it is just one more thing that is hurting their ability to make a go of it.”
Against the mayor
Jarlov said that he and his party have been the most outspoken opponents of the administration of the current mayor, Frank Jensen (Socialdemokraterne) and that they will continue to do so.
“Copenhagen’s left-wing flatly refuses to lower taxes. Instead they continue to remove parking spaces and create bottlenecks on vital traffic arteries,” he said.
Jarlov also scoffed at the “extremely expensive” high-tech city bike programme being championed by the administration.
“Copenhagen is already the number one biking city in the world: anyone who wants a bike here knows how to find one and it is not up to government to solve every problem,” he said. “Sometimes people have to do things for themselves.”
No pot or cheap housing
Jarlov also expressed disdain for another of Jensen’s pet projects: legalising cannabis.
“The council spends time discussing whether parliament should legalise cannabis and it has absolutely nothing to do with City Hall politics,” he said. “It is a decision that will be made by parliament and it is a waste of time to discuss it rather than talking about how to create jobs, improve the standard of living and economic growth.”
Jarlov was also displeased with the city’s decision to set aside 200 million kroner to build 640 new family homes and 605 student homes in the coming years.
“The left will spend a fortune on building affordable housing for a small minority,” he said. “By doing so, they make housing more expensive for everyone else – both tenants and homeowners – by causing property taxes to rise.”
Jarlov said that the plan will only create “an endless cycle” by making it more expensive to live in Copenhagen, which in turn will create a need for even more cheap housing and another tax hike.
High hopes for Copenhagen
Although Konservative lost ground nationally in the last election, Jarlov said that the party has been gaining strength in Copenhagen.
“This election could be the first time in 40 years that we do better in Copenhagen than in the rest of the country,” he said.
Factfile | Rasmus Jarlov
Years on the City Council: 4
• Lower taxes
• Less regulation
• More focus on business
• Stop “demonising” drivers
• Revive Copenhagen economically
Next week: Party profiles of Dansk Folkeparti and Socialistisk Folkeparti