February 29, 2016 / 1:38 PM / 3 years ago

Denmark PM names two new ministers after avoiding snap vote

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen (C) presents Esben Lunde Larsen as new Environmental and Food Minister (L) and Ulla Tornaes as new Minister of Higher Education and Science in front of Amalienborg Castle in Copenhagen February 29, 2016. REUTERS/Liselotte Sabroe/Scanpix

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen named two new ministers on Monday after a scandal that forced the resignation of his environment minister to avoid a snap election.

Environment and Food Minister Eva Kjer Hansen resigned over the weekend following accusations that she misled parliament over the environmental impact of a set of agricultural reforms.

The Conservatives, among the junior coalition partners of Rasmussen’s Liberal party, said last week they could no longer support Hansen and Rasmussen responded that he would call for a snap election just eight months after coming to power. That threat receded after Hansen’s resignation.

Esben Lunde Larsen was appointed as Hansen’s successor, moving over from Higher Education and Science Minister. That ministry will be taken over by Ulla Tornaes, currently a member of the European Parliament.

Rasmussen’s centre-right Liberals hold just 34 seats in the 179-member parliament. They are supported by the Conservatives with six seats, the anti-immigrant, eurosceptic Danish People’s Party (DF) with 37 and the Liberal Alliance with 13 - giving the coalition a majority of just one.

It was thought the DF would cause the most problems for Rasmussen’s tenure. But despite the DF’s rightist tilt, its economic policy of support for more spending and for the elderly clash with the Conservatives’ fiscally-tight principles, and their dispute has caused headaches for the government.

Reporting by Ole Mikkelsen; Editing by Sabina Zawadzki and Mark Heinrich

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