Denmark: tens of thousands of protesters want to prevent the abolition of a public holiday

Denmark: tens of thousands of protesters want to prevent the abolition of a public holiday

In Denmark, we are not demonstrating against the pension reform but to prevent the abolition of a public holiday! This Sunday, tens of thousands of demonstrators, between 40,000 and 50,000 according to the police, gathered in front of the Parliament of Copenhagen. “Hands off our holidays” and “Say no to war” were notably written on the many placards.

The left-right coalition and Social Democrat Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, in power since December, plan to scrap the religious holiday known as the Great Day of Prayer, observed since the 17th century. The government wants to use the money thus generated to increase the defense budget up to the NATO target of 2% of GDP by 2030, instead of 2033 as previously planned. He insists that the acceleration of the timetable is necessary due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine almost a year ago.

“Money for war will not help make peace”

“It’s a totally unfair proposal,” explained Lizette Risgaard, head of the FH union, behind the demonstration and which has 1.3 million members in this country of 5.9 million inhabitants. The various unions in the country claim that making Danes work an extra day would violate collective wage agreements, negotiated with the government.

Kurt Frederiksen, 56, the head of the hotel and catering branch of the 3F union, is one of the staunch defenders against the government’s plan. “We don’t think money for war will help make peace,” he said. For his part, Johannes Gregers Jensen, the dean of Copenhagen within the Lutheran Church of Denmark, of which around 73% of Danes are members, also regretted the authorities’ plan. Denmark has a long tradition that church affairs “are decided by the faithful, and the government should not interfere in that”, he said. “But he does (…) and it is a huge problem”.


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