That Connie Hedegaard was nominated as the Danish candidate for the next European Commission was hardly surprising to anyone, but at least we can now speculate about how her future portfolio will look like. By “we”, I mean people who know something about the internal workings of the commission-to-be, so I will leave this aside and speculate about something else that I really don’t know anything about.
1. Why a minimalist reshuffle?
Just about anybody and his grandmother are expecting a more substantial reshuffle, and that somebody would be leaving the government in favour of Brussels was 110 per cent certain, so why didn’t Løkke go straight for the real deal?
Good question: When Henning Christophersen left the Finance Ministry in 1984 to become Budget Commissioner, there was actually some reshuffling of the major portfolios (Conservatives took finance from the Liberals which got Social Affairs in exchange, obviously a loss for the Liberals). In 1994, Ritt Bjerregaard wasn’t a minister and in 1999 there was a minor reshuffle when Poul Nielson became commissioner. 2004 is interesting because the nomination of Mariann Fischer-Boel led to a medium-sized reshuffle which included the return of Connie Hedegaard to the national political arena.
One guess is that the Conservatives want a higher (or an easier) profile for Lene Espersen and throwing her into the deal might take some of the attention away from her.
2. Lykke Friis as minister
Lykke Friis has been linked with the Liberals before and there were rumours that she was to have been the party’s leading candidate for the 2009 European Parliament elections. If we look at the Liberal Party, it has always had an obvious problem in producing first-rate female politicians (let’s see … thinking … thinking … Louise Gade and … nowletmesee … Britta Schall Holberg … aaaaand … … Helga Petersen. Well, perhaps), and it has faced problems in attracting female voters – especially among urban women with a higher education. So besides her technical competences, Friis could be as useful to the Liberals as Hedegaard was to the Conservatives – euh, hold on: Does anybody really know how useful Hedegaard was to the Conservatives? Well, maybe she kept one or two per cent of the voters from defecting to … what was that party’s name again? … in 2007.
On the other hand, Friis lacks political experience: Just as in football (sorry!) there is a heck of a lot of difference between being an armchair manager and being on the pitch. She has some executive experience from her time as vice-president of the University of Copenhagen, though, and that could come in very useful here. Løkke’s task will be to decide exactly what role Friis will be playing and make sure she is prepared properly – as COP15 Minister Hedegaard will be helping Friis from any serious criticism during the next month or so, but come 2010 and the gloves are off.
At the same time, putting an attractive face on unattractive policies is not a strategy, that is very likely to succeed. To a large degree, the problem is that the Liberals appeal to people in the private sector while many women either work in or depend on the public sector one way or another.