COPENHAGEN – Denmark’s defense minister has taken a leave of absence for an undetermined period of time after he felt unwell and went to a Copenhagen hospital for a medical checkup last week.
The 49-year-old Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, who is also deputy prime minister, heads the Liberals that are part of the NATO member’s governing three-party coalition.
He wrote on his Facebook page on Feb. 1 that he had “dizziness and headache” and went to a hospital “just to be safe.” After being examined, he said he “there is nothing serious to report and I am feeling well again.”
But he posted on Monday evening that he “was pulling the plug” and “will be back when I’m ready” after taking advice from his doctor.
“I have been unusually busy for a long time. Now my body is sending a signal that it’s time to take a break,” Ellemann-Jensen wrote on Facebook.
A senior member of the Liberals, Troels Lund Poulsen, will take over the defense ministry temporarily until Ellemann-Jensen can return. Another senior party member, Stephanie Lose, will assume the leadership of the Liberals in Ellemann-Jensen's absence.
His sick leave will not affect the work of the government, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.
“I am very, very sad on his behalf,” she said. “The government is continuing its work.”
On Dec. 15 — after 42 days of talks following the Nov. 1 general election — Frederiksen presented a three-party majority coalition that crosses the left-right divide. It includes the center-right Liberals, the center-left Social Democrats and the centrist Moderates party headed by former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who is now Denmark's foreign minister.
It was the first time in 44 years that such a centrist government had been formed, bringing an end to the two blocs that have opposed each other for decades.
The three parties control 89 seats in the 179-seat parliament and are also supported by the four lawmakers representing the semi-independent Danish territories of Greenland and the Faeroe Islands.
On Jan. 30, Ellemann-Jensen traveled with Frederiksen and Løkke Rasmussen on a one-day trip to Ukraine to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.