All eyes on new PM after election win

Lengthy negotiations expected as Helle Thorning-Schmidt attempts to assemble government

(photo: Stephen Wright)
September 21st, 2011 12:00 am| by admin
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Last Thursday’s shaky victory by the red bloc brought Denmark only one step closer to a new government. One week later, prime minister-designate Helle Thorning-Schmidt is still negotiating a the policy and form of the new coalition with her allies – a process that some analysts think may take several weeks.

Thorning-SchmidtÂ’s job is complicated by the spread of the seats across the centre-left parties with whom she has to form a coalition. The Social Democrats and the Socialist PeopleÂ’s Party (SF) entered the election with a shared election programme and looked set to be the two dominant parties in a new government.

But their disappointing results – the Social Dems lost a seat, while Villy Søvndal and the SF lost seven – means they are increasingly reliant on the support of the Red-Green Alliance and the Social Liberals – who each gained eight seats.

Only the SF and the Social Libs have been invited to form a government with the Social Dems.

Talks between the parties are expected to be difficult, with the Social Libs and the Red-Green Alliance sharing few positions in common. To prevent media speculation from influencing their dialogue, Thorning-Schmidt told the press the negotiations would be happening behind closed doors.

“We are three parties working together. We are working to create a joint foundation for a government that everyone has to feel comfortable with. Everyone has to have influence and no-one has a veto. It’s the only way to negotiate that makes sense,” she said. “We have decided to negotiate with each other and not in the press.”

But already on Sunday, former Social Lib leader Marianne Jelved declared that the Social Dems could not rely on their support if they attempted to roll back reforms to the unemployment system that the party had voted for. JelvedÂ’s decision to speak to the press irritated Social Lib and SF party activists, and resulted in the SF leadership warning its supporters against talking to the press.

“We know it can be difficult to resist the media’s questions and the many journalists hovering about trying out different angles – but every statement risks derailing negotiations,” they wrote.

With four parties vying for influence the negotiations may take some time.

But with the Liberal Party remaining the largest party after the election, they could easily capitalise on a weak government at the next election should the new government not deliver quick results.

And while the centre-left remained sequestered itself, the opposition lost no time in seeking to undermine its leadership.

“Helle, Johanne, Villy and Margrethe – that alliance can only bring problems,” Danish People’s Party leader Pia Kjærsgaard told the press this weekend.

“Helle is only a beginner.”

(photo: Stephen Wright)
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