This editorial was written in our current printed edition, which hit the streets on Thursday August 14. Since then she has had a spat with US President Donald Trump’s over his offer to buy Greenland, and it’s fair to say that her jumpstart has become a baptism of fire.
Just seven weeks on from the general election and another seven weeks ahead of Parliament opening on October 1, PM Mette Frederiksen is playing it safe with a soft start. Her team is in place and they have begun sending messages on small political issues.
Since their success in the 2015 General Election, Dansk Folkeparti and Liberal Alliance have imploded, with the former hemorrhaging voters to Socialdemokratiet’s hardened immigration policy.
Venstre, the party of former PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and its long-trusted ally Konservative had a good election but sorely missed a strong platform to rally their voters around.
But Rasmussen’s party is also being torn apart. Løkke marches on, but few believe he will be able to win the next election. His vice-chairman Kristian Jensen also finds himself in a rather awkward position, as he firmly stated there would be no chance he could work with Socialdemokratiet and Frederiksen.
It looks like the political careers of both will come to an end by the time Venstre holds its annual rally in November. While they sit quietly by, waiting for this eventuality, Frederiksen has total freedom to carry out her own political agenda.
Despite all the advantages afforded to her, Frederiksen still has major challenges ahead – especially as she begins to test and implement her winning election strategy. Her retirement reform, for example, will entitle selected citizens to retire early.
However, she must structure this change without letting the greater part of the electorate down. She risks being vetoed by the minister of finance and possibly losing the support of Radikale. If she is not able to successfully implement this new policy, she risks facing the same fate as former PM Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, when he did away with the efterløn early retirement option and lost the next election.
The charged and highly sensitive immigration and integration issue is another hurdle. The requirements thrown at foreigners seeking residence in Denmark are about to be revised and softened. Refugee quotas, as outlined by the UN, are likely to be reviewed as well. Meanwhile burka and handshake laws are enforced lightly, if at all.
Climate is certainly another issue, but at present, there is more talk than concrete action.
Another possible breaking point could be the budget law for 2020. This may require further restructuring, as well as a possible alliance with Venstre, which hopefully by that time will have resolved their leadership issues.
But despite the daunting challenges facing Frederiksen’s administration, she seems to be sailing smoothly ahead – not so much because of her own competence, but due to the lack of strength, direction and confidence in the opposition.