A revolt is brewing in Denmark. Who would have thought that the people of the Scandinavian kingdom were so attached to their “great day of prayer”, the Store Bededag, introduced by Bishop Hans Bagger in 1686 on the fourth Friday after Easter? Obviously not the new ruling coalition anyway: made up of Social Democrats, Liberals and the Center Party of Moderates, it has decided to abolish this holiday in order to finance the increase in the defense budget and thus achieve 2% GDP by 2030, four years ahead of the original announced schedule.
Since this project was announced by the leaders of the three parties on December 14, criticism has rained down and does not seem to be abating. On the other hand. The anger continues to escalate. On Tuesday 17 January, the nine opposition parties from far left to far right announced that they would refuse to take part in a new defense policy agreement unless the government withdrew its proposal.
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Shortly before, Denmark’s largest trade union confederation, Fagbevægelsens Hovedorganisation (FH), 1.3 million members (in a country of 5.8 million people), launched an online petition asking all Danes to sign it. “Life is more than work and spreadsheets,” the organization states. The High Day of Prayer is our common day off when we can relax or be with our family and friends. This must remain so in Denmark in the future. »
“Amazement and Sadness”
The FH plans a demonstration in front of the parliament and calls for a referendum. Alongside the scrapping of a public holiday, the unions accuse the government of promoting the “Danish model” by pushing through the agenda for collective bargaining between the social partners, which has just started for 600,000 private sector workers.
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They’re not the only ones protesting. The Evangelical Lutheran Church – official church in Denmark – does not take off. In a letter addressed to the Minister of Education on January 13, the country’s ten bishops expressed their “astonishment and sadness” and lamented “a breach of trust” between church and state. In a media release published a few days earlier, they recalled the importance of traditions and emphasized that with the return of sunny days, the Bededag store is particularly suitable for confirmations.
For their part, economists question the calculations of the Ministry of Finance, which expects a 0.34% increase in working hours, which could bring 3 billion crowns (400 million euros) to the state coffers and increase GDP by 1.2 billion euros. Assuming companies agree to pay their employees an extra day’s wages and Danes don’t take vacation days.