Thursday

20th Jun 2019

Former centre-left MEP wins Danish elections

  • Helle Thorning-Schmidt will be Denmark's first woman Prime Minister (Photo: Helle Thorning-Schmidt)

Denmark on Thursday (15 September) elected former Social-Democrat MEP Helle Thorning-Schmidt to become its first female premier. The new government is likely to row back on controversial border checks and have a more generous approach to EU spending.

The leftist bloc behind Helle Thorning-Schmidt won 89 out of the 179 seats in the Danish Parliament, while the incumbent centre-right coalition only managed to secure 86 seats. Prime Minister Lokke Rasmussen conceded his defeat on Thursday night and was set to offer his resignation to Queen Margarethe II the next day.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We did it... Today we've written history," Thorning-Schmidt told cheering crowds after the results emerged. Denmark's Social Democrats have been in opposition for the past 10 years and they are likely to form a coalition government with the social-liberal "Radikale Venstre" and the leftist euro-sceptic "Enhedslisten".

Through her marriage to Stephen Kinnock, the 44-year old Thorning-Schmidt is the daughter-in-law of Neil Kinnock, former leader of the British Labour Party and EU commissioner, and Glenys Kinnock, former UK minister for Europe.

Trained at the "College of Europe" and a former MEP between 1999-2004, Thorning-Schmidt is set to "devote more attention to EU politics, which she knows from inside," Denmark's ambassador to Belgium Poul Skytte Christoffersen told this website.

But he also noted that ministers - mostly in charge of the technical dossiers to be prepared under the rotating EU presidency - will be new to the job and lack the contacts with fellow ministers and responsible MEPs in the EU legislature. "The will have a busy time catching up," said the Danish diplomat, with Copenhagen taking over the EU presidency at the beginning of 2012.

In terms of policy, the Social Democrats have announced they are to roll back the enhanced border checks policy - a concession made by the centre-right to the anti-immigrant People's Party - which has put Denmark on collision course with the European Commission and Germany.

"The Social Democrats are in favour of combating cross-border crime, but not through reinforced border checks, rather through police cooperation. This is more in line with EU law," Christoffersen said.

The winning leftist bloc - a novelty in the EU states where most elections have brought rightist parties to power in recent years - will however struggle to form a coherent policy on economics and taxation. Anti-euro views from the "Enhedslisten" which scored well and allowed the bloc to win over the centre-right may also be taken onboard.

In terms of negotiations on the next EU budget, which will have to be carried out next year under the Danish and Cypriot EU presidencies, Christoffersen predicts that the leftist government may turn out to be less "restrictive" than the current one when it comes to EU spending.

"Climate change may climb higher on the agenda, given that now it's almost a forgotten topic," he added.

Analysis

Heading towards a change of government in Denmark

The leader of the Social Democrats, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, is the favourite to win the election in Denmark on Thursday. She will have a tough challenge. She is leading a party that is on its way towards a disappointing result, and she will have to lead a disconnected coalition.

Danish EU presidency to focus on euro crisis

Denmark's upcoming six months of chairing EU meetings and overseeing legislation in the making will mainly focus on fire-fighting the "worst crisis the EU ever had" and on the bloc's next budget, the Danish ambassador to the EU said Wednesday.

Stop criticising Merkel, Danish PM says

With Denmark taking over the EU presidency in January, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has said she will fight to make sure that non-eurozone countries are involved in all discussions concerning the internal market.

Denmark stuck in EU treaty quagmire

Days away from taking over the EU's rotating presidency that will be responsible in part for steering through a new intergovernmental treaty, the Danish government has become stuck in a quagmire of domestic resistance to the so-called fiscal compact.

Additional summit over top EU jobs looms

It's quicker to elect the pope than to agree on the new EU leadership, quipped the Irish prime minister at the start of the EU summit - which may end only with another summit soon to pick the top jobs.

Tusk wants quick deal on EU top jobs at Thursday summit

EU leaders will be discussing the new EU leadership positions - with France and Germany split over the largest political group's lead candidate. It might take an extra summit for leaders to come up with final names.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson vs. Hunt to replace May as UK leader
  2. EU leaders take aim at Russia's role in Ukraine
  3. EUobserver appoints new interim editor-in-chief
  4. Ombudsman: Tusk's staff should record lobby meetings
  5. Tusk now 'more cautious' on top jobs decision at summit
  6. Mogherini: my replacement 'needs security experience'
  7. Irish PM: 'enormous hostility' to new Brexit extension
  8. Merkel hopes to name commission chief by early July

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Additional summit over top EU jobs looms
  2. EU advisor roasted over Russian media interview
  3. EU must counter Kushner's so-called 'peace' plan
  4. Tusk wants quick deal on EU top jobs at Thursday summit
  5. EU keeps North Macedonia and Albania at arm's length
  6. What's going on in Moldova - and what next?
  7. EU officials prepare for US extravaganza on Palestine
  8. EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us