City government reform fails

Proposal to centralise city administration under one elected official fails to gain necessary political backing

A reform of city government has been abandoned after the national government failed to gain sufficient backing for the proposal.

Currently the governments of Denmark's four largest cities – Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense and Aalborg – are composed of several independent administrations headed by elected officials who often come from opposing political parties.

The reform, which was put forward after the 2011 election and included in the law catalogue for parliament this year, proposed creating a single-mayor system in order to save about 250 million kroner annually.

But the economy minister, Margrethe Vestager (Radikale), had to concede this week that the proposal could not pass parliament.

“It is unlikely to gain a majority, let alone the broad majority needed to reform how cities are governed. Nor does it have necessary support from local government,” Vestager told Politiken newspaper on Wednesday.

She added: “It’s disappointing because there was a democratic advantage to be gained as well as a financial savings from reduced administration. That money could have been used elsewhere.”

Annette Vilhelmsen, the leader of coalition partner Socialistisk Folkeparti (SF), said last week that her party would not support the reform. Politiken reported that the party was concerned the reform would concentrate too much power at the city level in the hands of Socialdemokraterne, which currently holds the mayors' office in the four largest cities.

SF political spokesperson Jonas Dahl said, however, that he was disappointed that the reform had failed.

“It’s no secret that SF has wanted to debate this issue,” Dahl told Politiken. “But sometimes you have to acknowledge that it’s not possible to reach an agreement on everything.”