Danish PM picks right-leaning rivals as key ministers in new government

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COPENHAGEN, Dec 15 (Reuters) – Denmark’s Social Democratic Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Thursday appointed right-leaning political rivals as key ministers in her new reform-oriented bipartisan government.

Opposition leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen of the Liberal Party was appointed deputy prime minister and defence minister, while former prime minister and leader of the newly formed Moderates party, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, was appointed foreign minister.

Frederiksen, whose Social Democratic Party won more than a quarter of votes in a Nov. 1 general election to become the biggest in parliament, on Tuesday agreed to form a rare coalition across the political divide.

The coalition was agreed after the Liberal Party and the Moderates made a key concession by dropping calls for an independent legal probe into Frederiksen’s role in an illegal order to cull the country’s mink herd during the COVID pandemic.

That effectively marks the end of a political scandal during Frederiksen’s first tenure, which led to the exit of an agriculture minister and harsh criticism leveled at her for the “gross misleading” of the public.

Nicolai Wammen of the Social Democratic Party retained his role as finance minister.

The new government has also roped in former head of Danish energy companies’ lobby organisation Lars Aagard, who is not an elected lawmaker, to steer the climate, energy and utility ministry.

Outgoing climate minister Dan Jorgensen will now head a new ministry for development cooperation and global climate policy.

Eight out of the 23 ministers in the new coalition are women.

(L-R) Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, chair of the Social Democrats, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, chairman of the Liberal Party, and Lars Lokke Rasmussen, chairman of the Moderates during the presentation of a new Danish government at Marienborg, Copenhagen, Denmark. EPA-EFE/Mads Claus Rasmussen

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