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Parliament of Denmark

2018 Seal of the Folketing of Denmark.svg
Deputy Speakers
Political groups
Government (49)
  •   Social Democrats (49)

Supported by (45)

Opposition (85)

Open list proportional representation with a 2% election threshold
Last election
5 June 2019
Next election
On or before 4 June 2023
Meeting place
Folketingssalen 2018a.jpg
Folketingssalen, Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen

The Folketing (Danish : Folketinget, pronounced  [ˈfʌlkəˌtsʰe̝ŋˀð̩] ; lit.'The people's thing ' or 'People's assembly'), also known as the Parliament of Denmark or the Danish Parliament in English, [4] is the unicameral national legislature (parliament) of the Kingdom of DenmarkDenmark proper together with the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Established in 1849, until 1953 the Folketing was the lower house of a bicameral parliament, called the Rigsdag; the upper house was Landstinget. It meets in Christiansborg Palace, on the islet of Slotsholmen in central Copenhagen.


The Folketing passes all laws, approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government. It is also responsible for adopting the state's budgets and approving the state's accounts. As set out in the Constitution of Denmark, the Folketing shares power with the reigning monarch. In practice, however, the monarch's role is limited to signing laws passed by the legislature; this must be done within 30 days of adoption.

The Folketing consists of 179 representatives; including two from Greenland and a further two from the Faroe Islands. General elections must be held every four years, but it is within the powers of the Prime Minister to ask the monarch to call for an election before the term has elapsed. On a vote of no confidence, the Folketing may force a single Minister or the entire government to resign. [5]

Members are democratically elected by proportional representation: 135 in districts using the D'Hondt method and with 40 leveling seats. The Danish political system has traditionally generated coalitions. Most post-war governments have been minority coalitions ruling with the support of non-government parties. [6] The first sitting of the house is usually attended by Queen Margrethe II. [7]


From 1849 to 1953, the Folketing was one of the two houses in the bicameral parliament known as the Rigsdag ; the other house was known as Landstinget . Since both houses, in principle, had equal power, the terms "upper house" and "lower house" were not generally used. The difference between the houses was voter representation.

The Folketing was elected by common vote among men and consisted mainly of independent farmers, traders, and merchants as well as the educated classes. From 1866 to 1915, the right of vote for the Landsting was restricted to the wealthiest, and some of its members were appointed by the king, thus it predominantly represented the landed gentry and other conservatives. From 1915, both men and women had the right of vote for both houses, and also the Landsting was elected by common vote, although indirectly and with a higher age limit than for the Folketing. During the next decades, law-making mainly took place in the Folketing and the Landsting came to be regarded as a superfluous rubber stamp.

Christiansborg Palace, the location of the Folketing chamber since 1849 Danish parlement in Copenhagen.JPG
Christiansborg Palace, the location of the Folketing chamber since 1849

In 1953, a revised constitution was adopted by popular vote. Among the changes was the elimination of the Landsting and the introduction of a unicameral parliament, known only as the Folketing. Christiansborg Palace (also known by its nickname Borgen , Danish for the castle) has been the domicile of parliament since 1849. The palace is located in the heart of Copenhagen.

Gaining representation in parliament requires only 2% of the vote. With such a low election threshold, a large number of parties are represented in the chamber, making it all but impossible for one party to win the 90 seats necessary for a majority. No party has achieved this since 1901. All Danish governments since then have been coalitions or one-party minority governments. For this reason, a long-standing provision in the constitution allows a government to take office without getting a vote of confidence and stay in office as long as it does not lose a vote of no confidence. One consequence is that, unlike in most other parliamentary systems, a Danish government can never be sure its legislative agenda will pass, and it must assemble a majority for each individual piece of legislation.

Constitutional requirements

Composition of members
Voting system
Voter requirements
Bertel Haarder (V) making a speech Bertel Haarder i forbindelse med graensehindringsdebat i Folketinget.jpg
Bertel Haarder (V) making a speech
View from the gallery Graensehindringsdebat i Folketinget.jpg
View from the gallery
Parliamentary privileges

Forming a parliament

The 179 members of the folketing are directly elected to four-year terms, subject to calls for early elections. All Danish citizens 18 years or older may vote in legislative elections, which are conducted by secret ballot. Folketing seats are allocated among the various parties using the D'Hondt method of party list proportional representation. A party or electoral alliance must pass the election threshold of 2% of the overall vote to be allocated a seat.

Coalition governments

The Danish political system is characterised by a fusion of powers, with the government being drawn from the ranks of the Folketing. Denmark is governed by a Cabinet and a Prime Minister commanding a majority in the Folketing. In order to command a majority and pass laws, the Prime Minister must form alliances with parties outside government, as well as multiple parties within a coalition Cabinet.

During his first term, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, led a centre-right minority government consisting of the Liberal Party (Venstre) and the Conservative People's Party. This coalition government worked with regular parliamentary support from the national conservative Danish People's Party and often gained the necessary 90th seat for majority in the Folketing through negotiations with either the sole MP from the Christian Democrats, Ørum-Jørgensen [10] or another MP outside parties, Christmas Møller, both elected in 2007 as conservative MPs and having defected since then.

Since the 2007 elections, the Liberal Alliance (previously Ny Alliance) have gained momentum in opinion polls, and since early 2010, the governing coalition have not been able to gather a majority in the polls without the support of the Alliance. The continuing rise in the polls is to an extent the result of the internal crisis in the Conservative People's Party over the leadership Lene Espersen [11] and the continuing debate over a lack of "true" liberal/conservative ideology in government policy. [12]

On 13 January 2011, the continuing turmoil within the Conservative group in the Folketing caused Lene Espersen to resign as political leader of the party and focus on her role as Minister of Foreign Affairs. [13] A leadership election between Brian Mikkelsen, the Minister of Economic and Business Affairs and Lars Barfoed, the Justice Minister, was widely expected, [14] but on 14 January the Conservative group in the Folketing unanimously elected Barfoed as their new political leader. [15]

The Social Democrats under the leadership of Helle Thorning-Schmidt have enjoyed continuing majorities in opinion polls since late 2009 and hopes to form a centre-left government coalition consisting of the Socialist People's Party and the Social Liberal Party with parliamentary support from the small Red-Green Alliance. [16] [17]

Both Margrethe Vestager (Social Liberal Party) and Villy Søvndal (Socialist People's Party) pledged their support to Thorning-Schmidt before the 2011 election. [18] But there has been considerable debate about the future politics of this coalition, mainly because the Social Liberal Party demands a more liberal economic agenda. Also on immigration issues there are political differences between the three coalition parties. This has led some observers to believe that the Social Liberal Party will not join a government coalition but instead opt to be a part of the parliamentary support of a new, centre-left government. [19] In the event the Social Liberals did join the new three-party coalition government formed on 3 October.

Following the 2015 general election, Thorning-Schmidt was replaced as Prime Minister by her predecessor Lars Løkke Rasmussen. Until 28 November 2016, [20] he led a government consisting only of Venstre – a very unusual situation in Danish politics.


The Speaker is the presiding officer of the Folketing. The Speaker determines which members may speak, and is responsible for maintaining order during debates. The position was created in 1850, and the inaugural holder of the office was Carl Christoffer Georg Andræ. The current Speaker is Henrik Dam Kristensen of the Social Democrats. [21] The Speaker and four Deputy Speakers are elected by MPs at the opening of parliament after each general election and compose presidium of the body. [22]

President Henrik Dam Kristensen Social Democrats
First Deputy Speaker Karen Ellemann Venstre
Second Deputy Speaker Pia Kjærsgaard Danish People's Party
Third Deputy Speaker Rasmus Helveg Petersen Social Liberal Party
Fourth Deputy Speaker Trine Torp Socialist People's Party


Historical composition

Between 1918 and 1920 the Folketing had 140 seats, this was then increased to 149. The number was increased to 179 in 1953, which it remains to this day.

Folketing historical composition.png

Current composition

Christiansborg Palace, the seat of the three branches of government: the Folketing, the Prime Minister's Office and the Supreme Court. Here it is surrounded by posters, a typical scene during an election season. Christiansborg and election posters.jpg
Christiansborg Palace, the seat of the three branches of government: the Folketing, the Prime Minister's Office and the Supreme Court. Here it is surrounded by posters, a typical scene during an election season.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Faroese and Greenlandic political parties represented in the Danish parliament. [1]

Related Research Articles

Venstre, full name Venstre, Danmarks Liberale Parti, is a conservative-liberal, agrarian political party in Denmark. Founded as part of a peasants' movement against the landed aristocracy, today it espouses an economically liberal, pro-free-market ideology.

The Social Democrats, or simply Social Democracy, are a social-democratic political party in Denmark. A member of the Party of European Socialists (PES), the Social Democrats have 49 of 179 members of the Folketing and three MEPs.

Marianne Jelved Danish politician

Marianne Bruus Jelved is a Danish politician, who is a member of the Folketing for the Danish Social Liberal Party. She was elected into parliament in the 1994 Danish general election and previously sat in parliament from 1987 to 1993. She is a former Minister of Economic Affairs, Nordic Cooperation, Culture and Ecclesiastical Affairs.

There are three types of elections in Denmark: elections to the national parliament, local elections, and elections to the European Parliament. Referendums may also be called to consult the Danish citizenry directly on an issue of national concern.

Same-sex marriage in Denmark has been legal since 15 June 2012. A bill for the legalization of same-sex marriages was introduced by the Thorning-Schmidt I Cabinet, and approved by the Folketing on 7 June 2012. It received royal assent by Queen Margrethe II on 12 June and took effect three days later. Denmark was the eleventh country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples were previously recognized in the form of registered partnerships.

2005 Danish general election

General elections were held in Denmark on 8 February 2005. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's Venstre retained the largest number of seats in parliament. The governing coalition between the Venstre and the Conservative People's Party remained intact, with the Danish People's Party providing the parliamentary support needed for the minority government. The Danish Social Liberal Party made the biggest gains of any party, although it remains outside the governing group of parties. The election marked the second time in a row that the Social Democrats were not the largest party in the parliament, a change from most of the 20th century. The party lost 5 seats and leader Mogens Lykketoft resigned immediately after the election.

Lars Barfoed Danish politician

Lars Barfoed is a Danish politician representing the Conservative People's Party and was the party's leader from 2011 to 7 August 2014. He was Justice Minister of Denmark from February 2010 to October 2011, and Deputy Prime Minister of Denmark from January to October 2011. He also served as Minister for Family and Consumer Affairs from 18 February 2005 to 14 December 2006.

Communist Party of Denmark Political party in Denmark

The Communist Party of Denmark is a communist political party in Denmark. DKP was founded on 9 November 1919 as the Left-Socialist Party of Denmark through a merger of the Socialist Youth League and Socialist Labour Party of Denmark, both of which had broken away from the Social Democrats in March 1918. The party assumed its present name in November 1920, when it joined the Comintern.

Constitution of Denmark Fundamental law of Denmark and its territories (Greenland and the Faroe Islands)

The Constitutional Act of the Realm of Denmark, also known as the Constitutional Act of the Kingdom of Denmark, or simply the Constitution, is the constitution of the Kingdom of Denmark, applying equally in the Realm of Denmark: Denmark proper, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The first constitution was adopted in 1849, and the current constitution is from 1953. It is one of the oldest constitutions in the world. The Constitutional Act has been changed a few times. The wording is general enough to still apply today.

The Liberal Alliance is a liberal and libertarian political party in Denmark. Following the 2019 general election, the party received 4 seats in the Folketing, but now it has 3 seats after Simon Emil Ammitzbøll-Bille left the party to found the Forward party.

Martin Geertsen Danish politician

Martin Raahauge Borreskov Geertsen is a Danish politician, who is a member of the Folketing for the Venstre political party. He entered parliament in 2018 after Søren Pind resigned his seat. He was previously a member of parliament between 2011 and 2015. He is a former mayor of culture in Copenhagen and former political leader of the Venstre party in Copenhagen.

2011 Danish general election

General elections were held in Denmark on 15 September 2011 to elect the 179 members of the Folketing. Of those 179, 175 members were elected in Denmark, two in the Faroe Islands and two in Greenland.

Morten Messerschmidt Danish politician

Morten Messerschmidt is a Danish politician and previous Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Denmark. He is a member of the Folketing for the Danish People's Party. He was elected into the Danish parliament at the 2019 Danish general election, having previously served from 2005 to 2009.

Politics of Denmark

The politics of Denmark take place within the framework of a parliamentary representative democracy, a constitutional monarchy and a decentralised unitary state in which the monarch of Denmark, Queen Margrethe II, is the head of state. Denmark is described as a nation state. Danish politics and governance are characterized by a common striving for broad consensus on important issues, within both the political community and society as a whole.

2015 Danish general election

General elections were held in the Kingdom of Denmark on 18 June 2015 to elect the 179 members of the Folketing. 175 members were elected in the Denmark proper, two in the Faroe Islands and two in Greenland. Although the ruling Social Democrats became the largest party in the Folketing and increased their seat count, the opposition Venstre party was able to form a minority government headed by Lars Løkke Rasmussen with the support of the Danish People's Party, the Liberal Alliance and the Conservative People's Party.

2019 Danish general election General election held in Denmark

General elections were held in the Kingdom of Denmark on 5 June 2019 to elect all 179 members of the Folketing; 175 in Denmark proper, two in the Faroe Islands and two in Greenland. The elections took place ten days after the European Parliament elections.

The Alternative (Denmark) Political party in Denmark

The Alternative is a green political party in Denmark. The party was publicly launched on 27 November 2013 by former Minister of Culture Uffe Elbæk and Josephine Fock, the first of whom had been Members of Parliament for the Social Liberal Party. Elbæk was the leader of the party until February 2020, where he stepped down and was succeeded by Josephine Fock. It collaborates with DIEM 25 at the European level.

Next Danish general election

General elections are scheduled to be held in the Kingdom of Denmark by 4 June 2023, corresponding to the maximum four-year mandate as specified by the constitution, depending on whether a snap election is called. All 179 members of the Folketing will be elected. 175 members will be elected in Denmark proper, two in the Faroe Islands and two in Greenland.

Benny Engelbrecht Danish politician

Benny Engelbrecht is a Danish politician who has been a member of the Folketing for the Social Democrats since the 2007 general elections. He is currently serving as the Minister of Transport since 2019. He previously served as Minister of Taxation from 2014 to 2015.

Karsten Hønge Danish politician

Karsten Hønge is a Danish politician, who is member of the Folketing for the Socialist People's Party. Karsten Hønge is one of few people who has both been elected to city councils, county councils, regional council, Folketing, and the European Parliament.


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  8. [ permanent dead link ](in Danish)
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Coordinates: 55°40′34″N12°34′47″E / 55.67611°N 12.57972°E / 55.67611; 12.57972