Cudos to Ida Auken, MP for SF and Environment Minister in the three-party government, for drawing our attention to the State Council, one part of the Danish government which most people would be absolutely clueless about if you asked them in a vox-pop but still consider an essential part of the very special Danish form of democracy. Needless to say, the Danish People’s Party went ballistic and the Liberals and the Conservatives argued that any discussion of the Danish constitution amounted to sacrilege and an attack on everything the Sacred Danish Culture is built on.
If the three parties had their way, the minister would surely be banished to some remote island, just like others who dared to question the role of the monarch in the Danish political system.
Anyway, and on a serious note, we are dealing with the relationship between what Walter Bagehot called the dignified and the efficient components of the constitution with the State Council being one of the dignified components with no efficient political role: The Danish Monarch, unlike the German president, does not have an effective right or duty to perform a judicial review of new laws. Still, the Council and its duties are described in the Danish constitution and given that changing the constitution is almost impossible, we will all have to live with the illusion that the Monarch and the State Council have a political role. That Danish media do not report about the meetings and that the Monarch have more efficient, if technically informal, ways of being informed about current events in Danish politics is another matter.
These days, Danish political culture is mainly about creating and maintaining the illusion that we live in the 19th century – or rather: An imagined 19th century in which the sovereign powers of the Monarch were never challenged and Denmark never suffered military defeat.
Given the way the legislative machine works, there is very little which can be done to minimize the role of the State Council: Every ministry churns out new laws every month in numbers that are now too big to count which again means that ministers have to be present to do their presentations. Perhaps it would be possible to assign duties on a rotating basis and avoid meetings that are only designed to ramp up the numbers.