Enhedslisten threatening to scupper budget

The upcoming showdown over welfare benefits has government’s left-wing supporters threatening to pull out of finance deal

If the government continues its mass reform of the welfare system, it may lose the support of the left-wing Enhedslisten, taking away its majority and forcing a new election to be called.

Enhedslisten spokesperson Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen has warned that the Socialdemokraterne-led government’s ambitions to reform the flex-job programme, early retirement and social security could lead to a major conflict in parliament.

“The more the government continues to erode social services, the more improvements Enhedslisten have to push through in the budget,” Schmidt-Nielsen told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “Right now, the situation is poised to further expand the gap between the people who are working and those on unemployment. We will assess the situation, but we won’t support a budget that enfeebles a lot of people.”

If the government fails to get a majority to back the budget, it must either withdraw from power and let a new government try to form, or call a new election.

The government has indicated that everything from child support to pensions will be up for discussion as part of its overhual of the social welfare system.

Magnus Heunicke (Socialdemokraterne) said the party would listen to what Enhedslisten has to say but it won’t stray from their principles as a reform government.

“We are a reform government and we are determined to implement reforms,” Heunicke told Jyllands-Posten.”We must maintain our strategy to create jobs and preserve the welfare system.”

Should the alliance between the government and Enhedslisten dissolve, Venstre, the largest opposition party, would follow Enhedslisten and vote against the budget.

Although some have suggested that Enhedslisten lacks the political will to make good on its threat, since such a move could end up returning a centre-right government to power, Schmidt-Nielsen was adamant that the party would stand its ground.