After two months of negotiations with parties on both sides of the political aisle, the government announced today it had agreed on the details of the 2013 budget with its far-left ally, Enhedslisten (EL).
The first details of the 690 billion kroner agreement between the Socialdemokraterne-led coalition and EL began to fall into place yesterday with the elimination of levies on fat and sugar.
Today, both sides shook hands on a budget that will reduce the 2013 deficit by half, to 36.5 billion kroner, after Enhedslisten received a guarantee that jobless benefits set to be eliminated at the end of the year would be extended until July.
Calling the deal a “temporary solution to a permanent problem”, EL leader Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen said her party had agreed to the budget, even though it considered it flawed.
“We didn’t do this for the government’s sake,” Schmidt-Nielsen said, speaking during a press conference after refusing to appear with the government’s negotiators after the deal was signed. “We did this for the thousands of people who wouldn’t have had any money come January 1.”
Schmidt-Nielsen admitted today that the budget negotiations made it clear that her party had mistakenly thought the government stood further to the left than it actually did.
Nevertheless, she underscored that the 2013 budget had set aside funds to areas EL had sought funding for, including a number of social welfare programmes, public transport and renewable energy.
Political commentators said it was unprecedented for a party not to appear together with government representatives after shaking hands on a budget deal, but the finance minister, Bjarne Corydon (Socialdemokraterne), nevertheless underscored that the budget had been something all parties involved had agreed to.
“The budget has been agreed upon, and Enhedslisten was a part of the productive negotiations that brought it about.”
Within EL, however, the decision to accept the budget has led to turmoil. EL executive committee member Bjarne Thyregod told Politiken newspaper that the budget agreement represented "a betrayal of our ideals" and called for the election of a new executive committee. Nine of the 25 members of EL's executive committee voted against the budget.