After weeks of increasingly strained budget negotiations with its left-wing ally ground to a halt yesterday, the government turned to the opposition last night to secure a deal.
The surprise agreement with Venstre and Konservative fell into place within a few hours of party negotiators sitting down with the finance minister, Bjarne Corydon (S).
Up until Tuesday, Corydon had otherwise appeared close to a deal with Enhedslisten, but with the two sides unable to agree on whether the elderly should be given a legal minimum of home-care standards, including a weekly bath and an annual spring-cleaning.
Enhedslisten had made the standards a key demand, while the government hoped that additional funding to the tune of 1 billion kroner would be enough to shore up declining quality of care.
The increased funding, as well as funding to prevent firms from underpaying foreign employees, another key Enhedslisten demand, made it into the budget, as did new business initiative, an opposition demand.
With the December 2 deadline for reaching deal approaching, Corydon chose to sat down with the opposition for the first time since October 30.
Had the minority coalition government not come up with a draft budget 30 days before the end of the year, it would have been forced to call an election.
Before the deal was struck, it was speculated that Enhedslisten, fresh of sweeping electoral gains in local elections, would withdraw its support for the government if came to an agreement with the opposition, requiring an election to be called.
In a press conference after the budget deal was announced, Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, the party’s leader, however, ruled out such a move.
“The government made its choice,” she said. “They’d rather pass tax cuts together with the right-wing. Of course we disagree with their politics.”
Factfile | Proposed 2014 budget highlights
– 800 million kroner for tax cuts originally planned for 2015
– 1 billion kroner annual to improve eldercare between 2014 and 2017
– 1.5 billion kroner to implement sustainable energy technologies, fund new nature initiatives and help pay for construction of a light rail in Odense