The partial sale of DONG Energy to Goldman Sachs took a shocking turn this morning after Annette Vilhelmsen, the head of government coalition party Socialistisk Folkeparti (SF), announced that she would step down as head of the party and the party would leave the government coalition.
Vilhelmsen called a meeting this morning after she was unable to obtain a consensus in her party on agreeing to the government’s pending DONG/ Goldman Sachs agreement, which is set to be decided on in parliament later today.
“It’s been a dramatic 24 hours. I must admit that there has been disagreement in the party, at a national level and in the parliament group,” Vilhelmsen said at the press conference at Christiansborg. “I couldn’t gather the party.”
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The SF drama began in earnest yesterday when Karina Lorentzen, Lisbeth Bech Poulsen and Peter Westermann all stepped down from their respective SF positions while two other SF parliament members – Özlem Cekic and Karsten Hønge – announced that they would boycott the vote in parliament Thursday morning. Trine Pertou Mach and Eigil Andersen were also against the DONG/GS move.
Cekic wrote on Facebook that party head Annette Vilhelmsen made it clear that that PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (S) would toss SF out of the government if any SF’ers voted against the Goldman Sachs deal or cast a blank vote.
“As long as I am unable to vote after my beliefs then I cannot enter parliament so I have decided to boycott the vote today,” Cekic wrote . “[The Goldman Sachs deal] could be expensive for taxpayers and I cannot believe that just once we [SF] can go against our government co-operation without being threatened to be kicked out of the coalition.”
Embattled party head Vilhelmsen continued to pledge her allegiance to the government despite her party seeming to crumble at its very foundation.
The tax minister, Jonas Dahl (SF), had been called in this morning to explain the DONG deal to Parliament's Finance Committee concerning issues regarding Goldman Sachs's penchant for using tax havens before the vote on the DONG sale before a 10am vote on delaying the deal. That proposal was voted down, and a full vote on the DONG deal is scheduled for 1pm.
That meeting turned out to be Dahl’s last action as tax minister and the Thorning-Schmidt-led government will need to replace six ministerial positions that were held by SF’ers.
Those six positions – foreign minister, health minister, climate minister, tax minister, transport minister and the Minister of Integration Children and Social Affairs – will be filled by two of the remaining parties in the government coalition, Socialdemokraterne and Radikale.
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The SF veteran and former business minister, Ole Sohn, lambasted Vilhelmsen for her role in the demise of SF, calling the whole affair "an embarrassment”.
“It’s a shame that the work that has been done to create a left-orientated party that wanted to influence and take responsibility for changing society in a sensible direction has been in vain,” Sohn told DR Nyheder.
Experts have pointed to Pia Olsen Dyhr as the leading candidate to take over as head of SF.