COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark’s main opposition group, the Liberals, said on Wednesday it would look into forming a common position on Europe with other mainstream parties - a deal that would effectively lock out an increasingly popular far-right euroscpetic movement.
Most of Denmark’s generally pro-Europe parties last week said they wanted to reach a consensus on the country’s relationship with the European Union, unifying their policies on that issue for several terms.
But the Liberals - who have been leading opinion polls ahead of elections next year - kept quiet on their position, fuelling speculation they might want to try and form a coalition government with the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DPP).
The DPP, which has ridden a continent-wide wave of support for populist, eurosceptic parties, made strong gains in May’s European Parliament elections and has called for a referendum on Denmark’s continued membership of the European Union.
The Liberals’ EU spokesman Jakob Ellemann-Jensen told Reuters his party would not share the DPP’s eurosceptic position, and would welcome an invitation to join talks on a common position on Europe.
“Even though such an agreement with the government didn’t succeed when we tried about one year ago, we want give it one more try and are looking forward to the government invite to new negotiations,” he said.
“The Liberals cannot join DPP’s EU sceptical line ... More than 500,000 Danish jobs are directly depending on Denmark’s full participation in the EU’s inner market and the Liberals would under no circumstances risk that,” he added.
Asked if that would hurt the party’s efforts to form a coalition after the vote, he replied: “The Liberals would then just have to accept that.”
Opinion polls show the Liberals currently leading with 25 percent of the vote, ahead of the ruling Social Democrats’ 22 percent and the DPP’s 19 percent.
Mainstream political parties in Denmark, which joined the EU with Britain and Ireland in 1973, have had a decades-old tradition of striking cooperation agreements on EU policies.
But DPP leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl has told Reuters the party will no longer toe the line.
Reporting by Erik Matzen, writing by Annabella Nielsen; Editing by Sabina Zawadzki and Andrew Heavens