• Wed. Oct 4th, 2023

Denmark to abolish springtime public holiday to help meet NATO spending goal

Denmark’s 179-seat parliament voted by 95 to 68 to approve the government’s proposal to scrap Great Prayer Day, a religious holiday that falls on the fourth Friday after Easter.

Liselotte Sabroe | Afp | Getty Images

Danish lawmakers voted to abolish a springtime public holiday from the national calendar and plan to use the savings to boost military spending.

Denmark’s 179-seat Parliament on Tuesday voted by 95 to 68 to approve the centrist coalition government’s proposal to scrap Store Bededag, or Great Prayer Day, from next year.

Great Prayer Day is a religious holiday that falls on the fourth Friday after Easter.

The newly formed government said the cancellation of the public holiday would provide an additional 3 billion Danish krone (roughly $430 million). The lion’s share of this will then be used to raise the country’s defense spending and bring it in line with NATO‘s target of 2% of gross domestic product.

The controversial bill, which was proposed in December, has been sharply criticized by religious groups, trade unions and lawmakers from across the political spectrum. However, opposition lawmakers failed to agree on calling a referendum on the issue.

“Stop the thief,” said Karsten Hønge, a member of the Socialist People’s Party, according to The Associated Press. “The government is ordering people to work one day more.”

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Nearly 500,000 people signed an online petition to keep the holiday as of Wednesday.

Last month, thousands of people convened outside the Danish Parliament building in the capital Copenhagen to protest the bill.

Unions organizing the protest estimated at least 50,000 people took part in the demonstration, which Reuters reported would make it the country’s biggest demonstration in more than a decade.

Led by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Denmark’s coalition of the Social Democrats, the Liberals and the Moderates has said the bill was in part a response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Workers in Demark currently have 11 public holidays.


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