Frank Jensen: There can be only one (mayor)

Political parties are opposed to mayor’s idea of restructuring city government

Mayor Frank Jensen wants to merge the City Council's seven administrations into a single one, with himself as Über Mayor.

Currently, the council is compromised of seven separate administrations, each with its own council director and deputy mayor. The positions are distributed between the various parties based on proportional representation, and are often held by members of opposing political parties.

But incumbent mayor Jensen wants to alter the government structure so that there is only one administration with a majority rules principal, making him the only mayor and reducing the other six to committee chairmen, as is the practise in other councils throughout Denmark.

The proposal, which Jensen argues is a compensation to the equalisation agreement that is aimed at dispersing the finances equally amongst the country's wealthy and poor councils, has been met with fierce criticism amongst his political peers.

Jakob Næsager of the Konservative (K) said that Jensen’s proposal is contrary to the agreement made last November that the council would remain a split administration.

“We don’t want a single mayor presiding over 40,000 public employees,” Næsager told Politiken newspaper. "If Frank Jensen is unable to stick to the mandate extended to him, then perhaps we should send a chaperone or babysitter with him during negotiations.”

Employment and integration deputy mayor Anna Mee Allerslev (Radikale) said that Jensen’s proposition not only lacks support but amounts to blackmail.

“It seems odd that Frank Jensen would demand one-council government in compensation for the equalisation agreement,” Allerslev told Politiken. "It’s a strange method of blackmailing the government, especially since the two issues are not even connected.”

Jensen disagreed that democratic legitimacy will be compromised by having only one mayor, highlighting an increase in transparency and cheaper expenditures.

“The mayor only has the power that he can obtain through the council,” Jensen told Berlingske newspaper. "It will not make anyone more powerful, but simply make the system more transparent for the citizens. Additionally, it will be cheaper as there will be only one administration rather than seven.”

According to Jensen's estimates, the city could save 150 million kroner if the seven administrations were assembled into one.

Ritt Bjerregaard, who was the mayor of Copenhagen from 2006 to 2010, was also critical of the current form of government during her tenure, saying that it was too bureaucratic.