Denmark elects new centre-left coalition and prime minister

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
Image: Mogens Engelund.

The leader of Denmark's Social Democrats Helle Thorning-Schmidt is positioned to become the country's first female prime minister following the election of the "red bloc", a centre-left coalition, on Thursday. The coalition would include members of the Social Democrats, the Socialist People's Party and potentially Social Liberal Party and members of the Red-Green Alliance, and replaces the centre-right coalition government that has been in power for the last ten years.

Incumbent prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said that he "will hand in the government's resignation to the Queen" as "[t]here is no longer a basis for remaining in government".

Thorning-Schmidt plans to increase taxes, invest in education and welfare, and also introduce a plan to increase working hours by twelve minutes a day to create an extra hour of productivity each week. Despite not being part of the euro zone, Denmark has a deficit which has been predicted to rise next year to 4.6% of GDP. Following the financial crisis in 2008, nine Danish banks have been taken into state control.

The new prime minister is the daughter-in-law of former leader of Britain's Labour Party Neil Kinnock. Before entering Danish politics, she was elected in 1999 to the European Parliament but did not run for a second term. She ran successfully for leadership of the Social Democrats in 2005.