September 29, 2015 / 12:52 PM / 4 years ago

Danish defense minister steps down in blow to new government

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark’s defense minister resigned on Tuesday after weeks of media criticism of appointments he made in his former role as head of the administrative region of Southern Denmark.

Carl Holst’s resignation is seen as a blow to liberal Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who took over from Social Democrat Helle Thorning-Schmidt three months ago.

“Holst assessed that the turbulence related to his earlier service as chairman of the region, which is still unresolved, would be overshadowing his work as defense minister,” Rasmussen told Danish broadcaster TV2.

Rasmussen said it was Holst’s decision to step down, and that he expected to appoint a new defense minister on Wednesday.

Danish media has accused Holst of using funds from the region of Southern Denmark to hire a personal public relations advisor to help him with campaigning ahead of the June 18 election. He had also been criticized for continuing to receive payment from the region after he started work as defense minister.

“Holst’s personal matters had become a strain to the government, and right now the government has been shaken,” politics professor at Aarhus University Rune Stubager said.

Rasmussen won a slim majority in the June election with the support of the Danish People’s Party, whose scepticism toward the European Union and immigration gave it its best result in a parliamentary election.

Reporting by Teis Jensen, additional reporting by Annabella Nielsen; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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