Denmark coalition crisis?

On the rare occasion that a government is headed by the third largest party in parliament, and is backed by the second largest, which happens to be a “far-right” or “populist” party, one might expect the governance to be challenging. So it goes in Denmark.

This week, eight months into the single-party minority government of Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, one of the government’s parliamentary support parties has threatened to pull its support. But it is not the right-wing Danish People’s Party that is causing the problem, it is the smaller governing partner, the Conservatives, who have just 6 seats in the 179-seat parliament.

According to The Local, the Conservatives have “lost confidence in Environment and Food Minister Eva Kjer Hansen.”

Kjer Hansen’s critics specifically accuse her of giving into the farm lobby on norms governing the use of fertilisers, leaving water supplies exposed to increased pollution from agricultural runoff.

Thus far, Rasmussen is backing the minister, and has called for talks with his partner.

[the above was edited on 28 February in response to a clarification in the comments]


3 thoughts on “Denmark coalition crisis?

  1. The term “coalition partner” in the post is a bit misleading: What we have is a single-party minority government which do not have formal agreements with the other three “Bourgeois” (that’s the Danish term) parties. So, the Conservatives are part of the Liberal government’s parliamentary basis but not a formal partner, beyond specific agreements. (And yes, Danish politics is wonderfully complicated)

    The minister in question resigned “voluntarily” earlier today so the issue didn’t go to a vote in the Folketing


    • Thanks, Jacob. I actually thought it was a single-party government, but the news item seemed to imply they might be a formal (governing) partner. I will edit the entry for clarity.


  2. A Swedish Nevertrumper conservative (a member of the Sweden Democrats – I thought they were quite Trumpy? please don’t tell me the media distorts European politics!) on the institutional differences:
    “The idea that we could somehow win in Sweden by following Trump’s lead was, of course, always ridiculous. In the first place, Trump was only able to win due to the uniquely American Electoral College; it’s pretty much the exact opposite of Sweden’s proportional multi-party system in which a party simply can’t win without forming a coalition. Using inflammatory language against your opponents before the election only ensures that they will refuse to cooperate with you after the election, leaving you out of power.”
    John Gustavsson, “International Conservatism Needs Trump to Lose: The Reaganite-Thatcherite political movements in Europe and elsewhere can’t survive if Donald Trump becomes the face of the global right.” The Bulwark (28 August 2020),
    Vernon Bogdanor in 1983 drew a similar contrast between Margaret Thatcher winning in Britain in 1979 with 43.9% vs Franz-Josef Strauss losing in Germany a year earlier with 48.6%. Strauss did seem to be an odd choice to lead the Federal Republic: it seems to have been a German analogy to Australia’s “Joh for PM” campaign in 1987: Regional populists don’t do well outside their own patch (defining this broadly as the entire South in George Wallace’s case).


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