Business minister stepping down ahead of party leader election

Ole Sohn getting out ahead of inevitable firing

The business and growth minister, Ole Sohn (Socialistisk Folkeparti), announced today that he will not continue in his post following tomorrow's election of a new party boss.

"A new leader is about to be chosen,” Sohn told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “I think it is best if I quit at the end of this term.”

Ever since the campaign to elect a new Socialistisk Folkeparti (SF) leader began five weeks ago it has been speculated that regardless who ended up as party leader, Sohn would be forced out of the cabinet. 

If current SF MP Annette Vilhelmsen takes the reins, it is considered likely that she would take over the post now occupied by Sohn. She has experience as her party’s business spokesperson. Should current health minister Astrid Krag (SF) get the nod, it is speculated that she could either take Sohn’s post, or continue as health minister and appoint Vilhelmsen as the business and growth post.

Sohn denied that he was trying to get out on his own before he got the boot.

“I live in the moment, “said Sohn. “I am interested in the future, that is where I will be spending the rest of my life.”

Sohn said that in spite of all of the recent drama he has “slept soundly at night”.

Pundits have been quick to speculate that Sohn would indeed be out no matter who emerges victorious this weekend.

Hans Mortensen, who covers politics for the weekly newspaper Weekendavisen and author of a book about the SF, called Sohn an “isolated man” among the party's MPs.

“It’s on the cards that Sohn would not be minister for very long regardless of whether Astrid Krag or Annette Vilhelmsen wins the election,” Mortensen told Jyllands-Posten. There has to be a reshuffling of the party's ministers following the election, And Sohn’s spot has been the one most looked at.”

A former communist, Sohn’s time as minister got off to a rough start in October of last year, when his time as chair of Danmarks Kommunistiske Parti (DKP) came under intense scrutiny from both the media and members of the government. He was accused of accepting 5.2 million kroner in cash from Moscow on behalf of the party, money never declared to the tax authorities.

Sohn denied accepting direct financial support from the Soviet Union, despite a document leaked from within the Communist Party archive that shows an ‘O. Sohn’ signed off seven payments worth 5.2 million kroner. His political opponents argued that he presented a security risk, saying that Russia could have blackmailed Sohn for favourable trade deals.

Mortensen that many in SF were upset that Sohn did not seem to distance himself enough from his past.

Sohn denied that the case had any effect on his decision to bow out.

“They have dug for 20 years and it only made me more determined to go on,” he said.

Sohn said he hopes to spend more time with his family and to work to generate discussion about what it means to be a socialist in the modern world.

It has been suggested that Sohn knew the end of his time as minister was nigh for some time but he hung on long enough to make sure he secured his pension.