Friends and foes accuse Venstre of flip-flopping

Even allies of Venstre and party boss Lars Løkke Rasmussen accuse the party of changing its positions

Even a quick look at positions taken by Venstre over the past few years reveals that parliament's largest party has changed its position on a number of core issues. The party recently expressed support for elements of the government's school reform proposal, including more activity hours, only to distance itself from those key points as the debate continued. Another recent switch was Venstre’s announcement of its support for dual citizenship, an idea the party had previously opposed.

Kristian Thulesen Dahl, the political leader of fellow opposition party Dansk Folkeparti, warns that Venstre risks alienating its base.

“Venstre has significantly changed its policies since the last general election,” Dahl told Politiken newspaper. “Voters get the idea that it doesn’t matter what politicians say, because they’ll change their minds in a fortnight anyway.”

Venstre's leader, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, was questioned yesterday about the contradiction between language on the website for his education support project, Løkkefond, which supports the idea of increased free activity time in school, and his party’s rejection of the same idea in the education reform proposal.

“You are grasping at straws,” he told TV 2 News, contending that no line could be drawn between the Løkkefond and Venstre’s politics.

Some of Venstre’s conservative allies see the party’s u-turns as a positive sign.

"Venstre’s changes have largely been in the direction of our views, so I am positive about changes that support our objectives,” Konservative party head  Lars Barfoed told Politiken.

Liberal Alliance head Anders Samuelsen said that he hopes that Venstre is evolving.

"You don’t taunt people for changing their attitudes in the right direction,” he told Politiken.

The flip-flopping has not seemed to diminish the popularity of Denmark’s largest party among voters. Thousands of voters disappointed with the current government have joined Venstre, which currently polls at 32 percent.

Rasmussen would not comment on his party’s policy changes. The party's former finance minister, Claus Hjort Frederiksen, however, acknowledged that Venstre has changed tack in a number of cases, though he denies that it has broken promises.

"We must of course adapt our policy to the real world,” Frederiksen told Politiken. “You can develop new perspectives about things like dual citizenship as you listen and learn.”

Magnus Heunicke, a spokesperson for Socialdemokraterne, said that the many u-turns reveal Venstre’s uncertainty about its own beliefs.

"They have no overall plan for Denmark,” he told Politiken. “They flip-flop and spin constantly so no-one knows what Lars Løkke will believe in tomorrow.”