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Livin’ on a prayer: Denmark turns to God to avoid wasting public vacation


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As William Shakespeare would possibly say, one thing is rotten within the state of Denmark. 

Within the area of only a few months since taking workplace, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen‘s coalition authorities has managed to anger the Evangelical Lutheran Church, ten bishops, 9 opposition events and lots of of 1000’s of Danish voters.  

And all due to a public vacation. 

Not too lengthy after The Bard wrote Hamlet within the fifteenth century, a Danish bishop got here up with the thought of celebrating a “Nice Prayer Day” — retailer bededag — which mixed a variety of different minor holy days into one date on the fourth Friday after Easter. 

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It has been on the calendar of the Nordic nation for greater than 330 years however all that could possibly be set to alter, after Frederiksen proposed scrapping the vacation from subsequent yr. The cash saved can be used to spice up defence funding, partly as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in order that Denmark can attain a NATO goal of spending 2% of GDP on navy budgets, by 2030. 

The thought has sparked a furore in Denmark: firstly from the folks. 

A petition launched this week by the biggest commerce union organisation has already racked up 360,000 votes — by a protracted chalk the greatest ballot response in Danish historical past, organisers declare. 

“The quantity of signees has been staggering. I used to be not anticipating this tidal wave of assist,” stated Lizette Risgaard, president of the Danish Commerce Union Confederation FH. 

“In the mean time, about 1-in-19 Danes has signed the petition and signatures are nonetheless coming in quick. It’s such a pleasure to expertise this assist,” she advised Euronews. 

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FH — Fagbevægelsens__Hovedorganisation — stated it is “unfair” the federal government desires so as to add to its navy coffers by “punishing” staff, a lot of whom are on low incomes. 

“Eradicating a vacation is a one-sided lower in staff’ advantages, whereas enriching the employers who get one other workday with every little thing that entails when it comes to extra manufacturing and larger income,” Risgaard defined. 

And lots of workers who already work on holidays, like nurses and docs, emergency companies, gross sales employees in retailers or folks within the hospitality and tourism trade, would lose the rise in wages they might often anticipate. 

“It is only a very unfair and uneven factor to do,” stated Risgaard. 

Non secular opposition to the vacation ban plan

Mette Frederiksen’s authorities hasn’t simply angered commerce unions and individuals who signal petitions, however they’ve additionally incurred the wrath of the often even-tempered Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark. 

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Whereas near 4.3 million Danes are nominally members of the state church (as in different Nordics nations, they turn into members after they’re baptised as kids), lower than 20% see themselves as “very non secular.” 

However now Denmark’s bishops have accused the federal government of a “breach of belief” for his or her plans to scrap the Nice Prayer Day vacation, and say {that a} line was crossed after they weren’t even consulted in regards to the transfer earlier than it was introduced. 

“Sooner or later, we are going to struggle to make sure that the folks church’s custom of dialog, dialogue and inclusive democracy is just not harmed by this breach of belief, and we hope and pray that sooner or later there will likely be braveness to proceed the Danish social mannequin, which is characterised by dialog and inclusion,” bishops wrote in a letter to authorities ministers. 

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On Friday the bishops met with Denmark’s Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs Louise Schack however that apparently did little to assuage their ire, as they described the abolition of the Nice Prayer Day as an “unheard of presidency intervention with a scarcity of dialogue.”

Political opposition, however do the numbers add up?

There have already been political penalties too for the federal government over the Nice Prayer Day debacle, with 9 opposition events in parliament asserting they might withdraw from defence coverage cooperation over the difficulty.

For a rustic like Denmark the place political consensus is the well mannered norm, that is a giant deal.

The chief of the Conservative get together Søren Pape Poulsen has stated he does not assume Denmark ought to attempt to remedy the issues of conflict in Europe by abolishing the Nice Prayer Day, and he expects the federal government to now open contemporary negotiations with all events on discovering a greater settlement for the defence funds shortfall.  

A protest rally exterior parliament known as for early February may additionally entice 1000’s of individuals and pile but extra strain of Mette Frederiksen’s younger coalition, presuming they have not backtracked by then. 

So do the numbers add up? Will cancelling one public vacation actually make such a giant distinction to the nation’s navy funds?

Certainly one of Denmark’s most distinguished economists does not assume so. 

Professor of Economics Carl-Johan Dalgaard from the College of Copenhagen advised Danish public broadcaster DR Nyheder that “there could be an impact within the shorter time period — just because we as people discover it troublesome to adapt to the brand new vacation calendar after a public vacation has been eliminated. However ultimately the impact will put on off.” 

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Dalgaard stated he does not see how chopping the Nice Prayer Day will add the three billion krone (€400 million) the finance and defence ministries estimate they want.

“I’m undecided anybody actually is aware of at this level what the financial advantages of cancelling the vacation can be,” stated Lizette Risgaard from the FH commerce union organisation. 

“We might not be all that non secular, however we’re a really conventional folks,” she advised Euronews. 

“I’m hopeful that the federal government will come to its senses and realise that interfering with labor and punishing staff is just not how we construct a greater Denmark.”


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