Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Agriculture Minister Mogens Jensen wanted to show their willingness to act and act. When they went public earlier this month, they wanted to prove they were ready to do the utmost to care for the health of the people of their country. “It’s a matter of life or death, not just in Denmark, but all over the world,” said the head of government. The corona mutation Cluster-5 found in mink may be resistant to the vaccines, which are currently in the crucial development phase. The message given at the press conference and subsequently sent in writing to the mink breeders was an unmistakable instruction that all mink must be slaughtered in an emergency.
Since then, Danish virologists have been discussing how dangerous the new mutation really is for humans. It was only later that it became clear that drug administration did not require mass slaughter. Therefore, instead of the expected praise for her quick decision, the Prime Minister is confronted with the first serious crisis since her government was formed in June 2019. Ironically, it was not the decision to mass slaughter, but the lack of a legal basis that led to it. For almost two weeks now, ministers, prime ministers and various administrative bodies have been issuing different opinions on the epidemiological basis on which the decision was made and who had what level of knowledge.
For a long time, Frederiksen and Jensen tried to gloss over the disregard for the constitution, which forbids expropriation without a legal basis, as slip-ups and communication errors, and blamed each other on. Agriculture Minister Jensen now had no other option but to announce his resignation on Wednesday. He had come to the conclusion that he no longer had the sufficient support of a majority of the Danish parliamentary parties, he wrote on Facebook.
While the government did not worry about the legal basis before the decision, ex-minister Jensen tried to find a parliamentary majority for subsequent legitimation. He achieved this this week with the help of the center-left parties, which form the parliamentary majority for the social democratic government. The new regulation also includes a passage that prohibits mink breeding for 2021. The scandal cost his job anyway. The decisive factor for the left-wing parties to withdraw their confidence in the minister was that the government stopped the emergency slaughtering of mink that had already been ordered within a safety radius that was possible under the Epidemic Act. With this she wanted to save the industry. However, this measure could possibly have prevented the current mass slaughter and, above all, the transmission of the mutation to humans.
The mink crisis is already having a massive impact on the political mood in the country. The bourgeois opposition is seeking a motion of no confidence in the government, but has no majority for it. Instead, she is now urgently demanding that the fur industry be fully reimbursed for the damage caused by the emergency slaughter. Initial estimates are around one billion euros. The process will undoubtedly be an important topic in the next election campaign, especially since Prime Minister Frederiksen comes from North Jutland, the center of the now badly battered mink industry. Then the bourgeois camp could win the elections. Because the left parties are not only weakened because of the discussion about the emergency slaughter. The news of sexualized assaults in their own ranks also damaged their reputation.
Another concern for the fight against the pandemic is that the confidence of the Danish population in the government’s measures is at its lowest level since March. Just under half of the Danes believe they are in good hands.