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Thorning presents new governing coalition

The new Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt presented her new ministers today Monday. There was no, separate, Minister of Integration among them (updated)

Get used to this new tongue-twister: The new Danish governing coalition will be called the ‘S-R-SF’ government. This is after Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of the Social Democrats finally announced a governing coalition Sunday that puts partners ‘R’, the Social Liberals, just ahead of ‘SF’, the Socialist People’s Party.

The new coalition’s ministers were presented today Monday after more than two weeks of hard bargaining by the two junior partners in government.

She struck a conciliatory tone towards those that voted against her: »I want to be Prime Minister for the whole of Denmark. Not just one half,« she said before the presentation.

Youngest minister in Danish history

23 ministers were presented – 11 from the Social Democrats, 6 each for the Social Liberals and Socialist People’s Party – and although none of the names are official yet, most of them have already been leaked to the press.

Key political figure in the bargaining has been the leader of the Social Liberals Margrethe Vestager, who will have a new powerful Ministry for the Economy and Interior. Head of the Socialist People’s Party Villy Søvndal, the butt of jokes for his strong Danish accent when speaking English, will be Minister of Foreign Affairs. Dealing with universities, the Social Liberal Morten Østergaard will be the new Minister of Science.

It will be an extremely young group of politicians that from now on will be chauffeured around the city in ministerial cars. The youngest Danish Minister in history will be the 26-year old Thor Möger Pedersen as Minister of Taxation.

To ‘integrate’ Integration Ministry

The new government will merge the Ministry of Integration’s work into other ministries, even though the Social Democrats had vowed on a number of occasions to keep it going. Part of the Ministry’s work, the so-called Immigration Service, will be shut down completely, media report.

Responsibility for the various departments, such as residency permits, visa, citizenship, and work permits will be transferred to the labour and justice ministries, reports Outgoing integration minister Søren Pind accused the government of a breach of promise.

»They’ve done exactly what they promised not to during the election campaign so it’s right what I said – they can’t be trusted,« adding that it was a »bad day for integration«.

DKK 10bn growth pack, congestion charge

The government’s official political programme will be released Monday, but initial reports say that it will include the following:

An early retirement reform programme that was proposed by the previous centre-right VK coalition in May. An extra low-level ‘start assistance’ for those claiming cash welfare benefits, originally aimed at immigrants, will be abolished. A reduction of carbon emissions by 40 per cent with half of all energy consumption to be produced by wind energy by 2020.

The new government will push through a tax reform that will reduce income tax, but with ‘social balance’. A DKK 10bn growth package, funded by bringing forward planned public investment. A congestion charge around Copenhagen will be set up, and public transport will be cheaper.

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