When she says no – no it is!

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has over the last month been asked one question – and one question only: “Are you leaving Denmark for a top position in the EU?” 

No, the lady said repeatedly, but nobody in the media world took any notice and kept asking the question.

But over the weekend, they had to take no as her final answer, when the PM announced to everybody’s surprise that not only was she not quitting, but she had arranged for the highly prestigious position of EU commissioner from Denmark to be filled by Margrethe Vestager, the leader of Radikale, the minister of the interior and economic affairs and deputy prime minister. 

Nobody had seen that coming. Normally the leading government party took that for themselves – the exception being the present commissioner for climate, Connie Hedegaard, who will now return to Denmark to reinforce Konservative, a party in desperate need of leadership and political vision. 

The positioning of Vestager came at a price. Radikale has had to sacrifice a seat in the cabinet that Thorning-Schmidt has duly given to one of her loyal servants, Benny Engelbrecht, who becomes the fifth tax minister in this government’s three-year reign! 

It is now blowing in the wind that Thorning-Schmidt was just playing hard to get or came up short in the chess game that pervades the corridors of the EU. 

However, the solution she came up with calls for applause. Vestager is undoubtedly one of the best qualified economic politicians the kingdom has. If she gets a heavyweight portfolio like the Inner Market, she will do us proud back home. She does not give in on budget deviation and can stomach unpopular legislation, and she will bring the moral fortitude she learnt during her upbringing at a parsonage in western Jutland.

In the meantime, Thorning-Schmidt can start preparing for the general election – which will probably take place sometime next spring. She is behind the blues in the polls. She will probably not be rewarded for the relative good shape of the country’s economy, low unemployment and a good financial balance – there is generally very little to separate left from right. 

We are now looking forward to seeing how our friends in Sweden vote next Sunday. The immigration card is out in force – a foreshadowing of the election in Denmark perhaps. We hope that is not the case, but may the best man or woman win.

In the meantime, now we know that when she says no, she means no. That at least is new – for a politician at any rate!