COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark’s Liberals Party, which won an election last week with other centre-right parties but has been unable to form a government with them, will establish a minority cabinet alone, the party’s leader, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, said on Friday.
Despite the victory of the centre-right bloc, the Liberals had their worst election in a quarter of a century. A government consisting of the party alone would have just 34 seats out of 179 in parliament.
They will depend on support from other centre-right parties vote by vote in parliament, even though they have not managed to reach a compromise on a government programme.
Rasmussen was speaking after a last-minute meeting with parties on the right, including the eurosceptic Danish People’s Party (DF), a former fringe party which ended up with more seats in parliament than the Liberals, and two smaller parties.
“After the discussion tonight, it’s my judgement that it will be possible to form a Liberal government under my guidance which will enjoy support in parliament,” Rasmussen told reporters on Friday evening.
He said he expected to inform Queen Margrethe of the conclusion of talks on Saturday, a formality in the Kingdom of Denmark. Parliament would still need to approve the government.
Such a small cabinet would leave Denmark in an unusual situation. Only one government, in 1973, had fewer members in parliament, with 22 seats. That cabinet lasted 14 months.
“It is very likely that an election will be called before the four-year period is over. On average, one-party governments sit for two-and-a-half years,” Martin Larsen, a political commentator from Copenhagen University, told Reuters.
Governing alone would enable the Liberals to make compromises with parties across the political spectrum on individual legislation, not an unusual occurrence in Danish politics.
“(But) he faces the risk that other parties make broad proposals without him. This would give his government a very short lifespan,” Larsen said.
After the Friday evening meeting, centre-right parties said Rasmussen should go ahead with a government by himself, a signal that they would back such a move in parliament. The centre-right bloc as a whole has a slim majority in parliament.
“If you’re a minority government and you’re not ready to listen, you’re going to have a hard time,” DF’s leader, Kristian Thulesen Dahl, told reporters after the meeting. “If you’re willing to listen, also to the Danish People’s party, then you’ll have the opportunity to have a reasonable and stable government.”
Sources previously said DF, right-wing in most aspects in its policies, had refused to back down on its demand that state spending be increased, especially on healthcare. That runs counter to the policies of the Liberals and others.
DF’s other demands have included curbs on immigration and a referendum on whether Denmark should stay in the European Union. The once-fringe party has surged in recent years to become the second-largest party in parliament and the largest on the right.
The limited number of Liberals in parliament will not only allow Rasmussen to cooperate with rivals; it will also give other parties an opportunity to do the same, as DF indicated.
“There are some topics where I’m hoping that the Social Democrats in the opposition will be ready to cooperate. The more they are (ready to talk), the bigger the probability of getting our policy through,” Dahl said, noting his party was closer with them on public-sector spending.
Writing by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Larry King