Denmark – Parliamentary Elections 2011

Denmark looks set to elect its first female prime minister and propel the centre-left Social Democrats back into government after 10 years of centre-right rule under the leadership of Lars Løkke Rasmussen and his liberal Venstre party. Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who is also her party’s first female leader, claimed victory with the final results showing her “red bloc” coalition securing 89 seats in the 175 seat Folketing, providing just a three seat majority.

Thorning-Schmidt’s government coalition is likely to consist of her Social Democrats (which in fact lost a seat from the 2007 election), the Social Liberal Party (which gained eight seats), the Socialist People’s Party (which lost seven seats) and the Red-Green Alliance (which gained eight seats). Venstre continues to be the country’s largest party (gaining one seat), a position it has held since 2001 when the Social Democrats were unseated for the first time in 70 years.

Danish 2011 Parliamentary Election preliminary results (175 total seats)

      1. Venstre, 47 seats (+1 from 2007)
      2. Social Democrats, 44 seats (-1)
      3. Danish People's Party, 22 seats (-3)
      4. Social Liberal Party, 17 seats (+8)
      5. Socialist People's Party, 16 seats (-7)
      6. Red-Green Alliance, 12 seats (+8)
      7. Liberal Alliance, 9 seats (+4)
      8. Conservative People's Party, 8 seats (-10)

The result would appear to buck the trend in Europe towards centre-right governments and away from those from the centre-left, although it does maintain another trend of ousting incumbent government in face of the economic downturn. The economy was an important issue in the election, with the Danish GDP set to grow by just 1.25% this year, which compares unfavourably with its Scandinavian neighbours Sweden (4.5%), Norway (3%) and Iceland (2.5%). Thorning-Schmidt campaigned against public spending cuts and called for tax rises and the introduction of an extra hour of productivity each week to get the economy growing faster. Løkke Rasmussen warned that the centre-left economic policies would put pressure on Denmark’s coveted AAA credit rating and threaten the country’s haven status. The Social Democrats also promised to reversed some of the tough immigration measures that had been passed by the previous government, mainly as a concession to the Danish People’s Party in order to keep their support in maintaining a majority in parliament. In claiming victory, Thorning-Schmidt said:

“Today is the day things change in Denmark. This evening we’ve shown that the Social Democrats are a big and driving force in Denmark. We’ve written history today.”

For Løkke Rasmussen, the results mean that he was unable to win an election in his own right, having inherited the government from Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who in 2009 stepped down to become NATO secretary-general. In government, the centre-right coalition between Venstre and the Conservative People’s Party relied on the support of the controversial Danish People’s Party, which prompted a raft of reforms focused on reducing immigration. He is expected to tender his resignation to Queen Margerethe today. In accepting the defeat Løkke Rasmussen said:

Tonight I hand over the keys to the Prime Minister’s office to Helle Thorning-Schmidt. And dear Helle, take good care of them. You’re only borrowing them.”

Click here to find out more about Denmark

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