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Political debate in Høje Taastrup kommune

Tonight after a quick and early dinner we took the train to Taastrup, the next station to the east and the main town in our “kommune” (municipality)—Høje Taastrup commune, where we witnessed a good example of local Danish politics.  We attended a lively political debate between our current mayor, Conservative Michael Ziegler, and the Social Democrats mayoral candidate, Svend-Erik Hermansen.  Ziegler took over the mayor’s office at the last election, after many years of Social Democrat rule under now-deceased popular mayor Anders Bak (1985-2006), along with a majority of conservative municipal council members.  This was quite an upset for the area, which has enjoyed Social Democrat leadership for so long, and especially upset were the politicians who lost power in local government.
That was obvious tonight as the two sides discussed the upcoming budget, or rather showed us all their behavioural strategy under these negotiations.  
Ziegler, who is young, attractive and charismatic, has the majority of the council behind him, and could easily get the budget approved without the Social Democrats working with him. But he would like their cooperation, as that would consolidate his position and make him appear even more popular.

 Michael Ziegler
Political veteran Hermanson wants to be the next mayor. He’s trying to make Ziegler look like he is hamstringing the SF party, and unwilling to bring them into a full coalition.

Svend-Erik Hermansen
In the audience were many politicians and colourful community activists, eager to put out loaded questions, and backing favourite political causes.

We lasted 1-1/2 hours until their was a break, and we were out the door.
The mud was being slung back-and-forth tonight by the politicos.  Diplomatically enough, but nonetheless forcefully.  And it appears that both sides are digging their heels in for a longer battle.  It’ll be interesting to see how their positioning plays out.