Denmark scraps public holiday to fund higher defense spending. After hours of debate, parliament passed a corresponding bill on Tuesday with a majority of 95 to 68 votes. Specifically, the “Store bededag” (English: “Great Day of Prayer”) will be abolished as a holiday in the future – a Christian holiday that falls on the fourth Friday after Easter and dates back to 1686.
In January, the Danish government presented its plan to abolish the holiday so that the higher tax revenues could then be used to increase the military budget in the wake of the Ukraine war. According to government calculations, the additional working day would bring an additional three billion Danish kroner (400 million euros) into the state coffers.
An increase in defense spending was also decided on Tuesday in order to be able to achieve NATO's two percent target as early as 2030 instead of 2033 as originally planned. This was necessary against the background of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it said.
The plan had drawn criticism from the church and unions. The opposition and economists had also questioned the effect of the proposal. The public holiday is to be considered a general working day from 2024. According to the government plans, employees with a fixed wage should receive a salary supplement of 0.45 percent of the annual salary.
"I don't think it's a problem to have to work an extra day," said Prime Minister Frederiksen. There are "enormous expenses" for defense, security, health, psychiatry and "green transformation", she said when presenting her government program in parliament, "and there is no financial leeway".
At the beginning of February, around 50,000 people demonstrated against the government's plans in front of the parliament in Copenhagen - a rare sight in a country accustomed to consensus.