January 12, 2016 / 2:58 PM / 3 years ago

Danish right-wing party says it no longer guarantees government majority

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - A small Danish right-wing party announced on Tuesday that it would no longer automatically guarantee the survival of Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen’s government, but stopped short of toppling the government.

Prime Minister of Denmark Lars Lokke Rasmussen attends the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 25, 2015. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz

The move will make life even more difficult for Rasmussen’s slim centre-right government, as the party, Liberal Alliance (LA), is one of three parties on whose support the government usually depends on to get its bills through parliament.

LA does not aim to bring down the Danish government, but it will no longer guarantee to be part of a majority in parliament for the government’s bills, party leader Anders Samuelsen told Danish broadcaster TV2 News.

The move from LA came as Rasmussen on Tuesday confirmed that the government would not initiate negotiations on tax cuts in the spring, as scheduled in its programme. LA wants the tax negotiations and said the government promised to negotiate and lower taxes for high-income people.

Populist Danish People’s Party, the largest of the government’s three supporting parties, has said it cannot see where the money for the cuts on the highest and lowest income tax payers could come from.

Rasmussen said the government needed to address the challenge of housing asylum seekers before it would be able to start talks on the tax cuts, echoing a message from his Finance Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen on Monday.

The number of asylum seekers in Denmark rose to more than 21,000 last year from 14,815 in 2014, and is expected by the government to increase to around 25,000 this year - a large jump but still far below the 163,000 that applied for asylum in neighbouring Sweden last year.

Pundits have been questioning whether LA would actually be willing to bring down the government in case of further disagreements as it would then risk an election that could produce a new government led by the Social Democrats, in power until last summer.

Before it withdrew support, LA had 13 members of parliament supporting the governing party Venstre and its partners, giving a total of 90 seats in the 179 seat chamber.

The government can still pass a bill in parliament but will need to rely on members of opposition parties outside the governing grouping.

Reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Alison Williams

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