707 billion from us to us
Bjarne Corydon, the minister of finance, on Tuesday presented the minority government’s budget for 2015.
Within the legal framework of the kingdom and the European Union, it came in on balance at minus 3 percent.
The pot is on the table, and now comes the game of balancing welfare handouts on one side and the means to improve competitiveness and security on the other.
The red-support parties Enhedslisten (EL) and Socialistisk Folkeparti (SF) are on the welfare side, loudly supporting plans to extend unemployment allowance beyond more than two years – as it was cut down to from four years only two years ago.
However, the latest figures confirm the unemployment rate is dropping again, and is very low compared to the rest of Europe. Corydonsaid there was no way he was going to consider changes in this field.
But then again, the minister went on to reveal that a lump sum of 1.5 billion has still not been allocated, and could be distributed to the support parties’ whims in appreciation for their support if they approved the budget.
The rest of the money, some 705.5 billion, was allocated to non-negotiable areas like wages, the health service, education, defence and what have you.
The opposition, meanwhile, wants tax cuts – especially on the highest income tax bracket of 56 percent. They claim that it won’t cost anything since people will work more and not look for tax shelters.
But it doesn’t look likely to be approved this side of the election, which is ever looming in the background – as early as the late summer if the budget negotiations fail.
The parties are not too keen to go to the ballot boxes right now. Polls indicate a shift to blue, so EL and SF are uneasy about swapping a red government for a blue one.
Meanwhile the Socialdemokraterne struggle on, trying not to listen to rumours that the prime minister will soon take a top position at the EU.
In the blue camp, Venstre leader Løkke Rasmussen is still recovering from his latest mess, this time in accounting, while Konservative needs time to recover from its all-time low at the last election, and also time to settle in a new leader – fresh bait for a pack of journalists seeking soft spots to cloud his party’s political agenda.
Increasingly, the political mood suggests there will be no election this year. Meanwhile, the bits and pieces of the 1.5 billion will be distributed so that everybody can claim they got the lion’s share.