Prime Minister of Denmark

Last updated
Prime Minister of Denmark
Danmarks statsminister
National Coat of arms of Denmark.svg
Flag of Denmark (state).svg
Lars Lokke Rasmussen in 2017.jpg
Lars Løkke Rasmussen

since 28 June 2015
Style Mr. Prime Minister (Formal)
His Excellency (diplomatic, outside Denmark [1] )
Member of Council of State
European Council
Residence Marienborg
Seat Christiansborg, Copenhagen, Denmark
AppointerThe Monarch
Based on Appointee's ability to gain majority support in the Folketing
Term length No fixed term (Usually up to 4 years)
Formation22 March 1848
First holder Adam Wilhelm Moltke
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs [2]
Salary kr. 1,458,000 p.a. ($ 269,830)
Website The Prime Minister's Office

The Prime Minister of Denmark (Danish : Danmarks statsminister) is the head of government in the Kingdom of Denmark. Before the creation of the modern office, Denmark did not initially have a head of government separate from its head of state, namely the Monarch, in whom the executive authority was vested. The Constitution of 1849 established a constitutional monarchy by limiting the powers of the Monarch and creating the office of premierminister. The inaugural holder of the office was Adam Wilhelm Moltke.

Danish language North Germanic language spoken in Denmark

Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in Denmark and in the region of Southern Schleswig in northern Germany, where it has minority language status. Also, minor Danish-speaking communities are found in Norway, Sweden, Spain, the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. Due to immigration and language shift in urban areas, around 15–20% of the population of Greenland speak Danish as their first language.

The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, who often presides over a cabinet, a group of ministers or secretaries who lead executive departments. "Head of government" is often differentiated from "head of state", as they may be separate positions, individuals, or roles depending on the country.

Denmark constitutional monarchy in Europe

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country and the southernmost of the Scandinavian nations. Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million.


The Prime Minister presides over a cabinet that is formally appointed by the Monarch. In practice, the appointment of the Prime Minister is determined by their support in the Folketing (The National Parliament). Since the beginning of the 20th century no single party has held a majority in the Folketing, so the Prime Minister must head a coalition of political parties, as well as their own party. Additionally, only four coalition governments since World War II have enjoyed a majority in the Folketing, so the coalitions (and the Prime Minister) must also gain loose support from other minor parties.

The Cabinet of Denmark has been the chief executive body and the government of the Kingdom of Denmark since 1848. The Cabinet is led by the Prime Minister. There are around 25 members of the Cabinet, known as "Ministers", all of whom are also heads of specific government ministries. The Cabinet has usually been composed of Ministers from two or more parties forming a coalition government. Still, most of these governments have been minority governments, relying on the support of still other parties.

Folketing Parliament of Denmark

The Folketing, also known as the Danish Parliament in English, is the unicameral national parliament (legislature) of Denmark. 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 current Prime Minister of Denmark is Lars Løkke Rasmussen. He leads a government consisting of Venstre, Liberal Alliance and the Conservative People's Party with parliamentary support from the Danish People's Party.

Lars Løkke Rasmussen Current Prime Minister of Denmark

Lars Løkke Rasmussen is a Danish politician serving as the 25th and current Prime Minister of Denmark since 2015, previously holding the position from 2009 to 2011, and as Leader of the centre-right liberal Venstre party since 2009.

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 Liberal Alliance is a liberal, right-libertarian political party in Denmark.



From approximately 1699 to 1730, the highest ranking non-monarchial government official was titled the "Grand Chancellor" (storkansler) and from 1730 until 1848, this office was titled "Minister of State" (Statsminister). These titles foreshadowed the modern office of Prime Minister, however, unlike the current office, the Grand Chancellor and State Minister were not formal heads of government. The King held executive authority as absolute ruler from 1661 until the enactment of a liberal Constitution in the early nineteenth century.

The executive is the organ exercising authority in and holding responsibility for the governance of a state. The executive executes and enforces law.

Absolute monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme authority and where that authority is not restricted by any written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often hereditary monarchies. In contrast, in constitutional monarchies, the head of state's authority derives from and is legally bounded or restricted by a constitution or legislature.

The office of Prime Minister was introduced as a part of the constitutional monarchy outlined in 1848 and signed as the Danish Constitution on 5 June 1849. The new Constitution established a parliamentary system by creating a new bicameral parliament ( Rigsdagen ) and a Council Presidum, headed by a Council President. [3] The Council Presidium is regarded as the predecessor of the modern Prime Minister's Office. [3] The first Council President was Adam Wilhelm Moltke, who came to power on 22 March 1848. Molte and his next two successors also held the title of premierminister, which translates as "prime minister".

A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the sovereign exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchy differs from absolute monarchy in that constitutional monarchs are bound to exercise their powers and authorities within the limits prescribed within an established legal framework. Constitutional monarchies range from countries such as Morocco, where the constitution grants substantial discretionary powers to the sovereign, to countries such as Japan and Sweden where the monarch retains no formal authorities.

The Constitutional Act of the Kingdom of Denmark, or simply the Constitution, is the constitution of the Kingdom of Denmark, applying equally in Denmark proper, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. In its present form, the Constitutional Act is from 1953, but the principal features of the Act go back to 1849, making it one of the oldest constitutions.

Constitution Day (Denmark) observance in Denmark

Constitution Day is observed in Denmark on 5 June. The day honors the Danish Constitution, as both the first constitution of 1849 and the current constitution of 1953 were signed on this date of their respective years. Denmark is one of only a handful countries in the world to not have an official national day, but Constitution Day is sometimes considered the equivalent of such a day. It is also widely considered to be a day for celebrating Danish democracy.

From 1855 onwards the Prime Minister was known simply as the "Council President" (Konseilspræsident). Carl Christian Hall became the first Prime Minister/Council President to lead a political party (the National Liberal Party).

Carl Christian Hall Danish politician

Carl Christian Hall was a Danish statesman. Hall served as the Council President of Denmark, first from 1857 to 1859 and again from 1860 to 1863.

The National Liberal Party was a Danish political party or political movement from 1842 until 1882.

Modern office

The modern Prime Minister's Office was founded on 1 January 1914, when the Council Presidium was established as a department under the Prime Minister, [3] when it had previously existed as an informal council gathered by the Prime Minister. The title of the Prime Minister changed again in 1918 under the Premiership of Carl Theodor Zahle, becoming titled the "Minister of State" (in-line with its Scandinavian neighbours, Norway and Sweden), which it remains to this day.

By the mid-nineteenth century a strong party-system had developed, with most Prime Ministers being the leader of either Venstre (left) or Højre (right). However, by 1924 the Social Democrats had become the largest party and Højre had disappeared.

During the first years of Occupation of Denmark, the governments of Prime Ministers Vilhelm Buhl and then Erik Scavenius cooperated with the Nazi occupiers. On 29 August 1943, the Danish government resigned, refusing to grant further concessions to Nazi Germany. All government operations were assumed by the permanent secretaries of the individual departments, and this arrangement lasted until the Liberation of Denmark on 5 May 1945. Since King Christian X never accepted the resignation of the government, it existed de jure until a new cabinet was formed on 5 May 1945.

The twentieth century was dominated by Social Democratic Prime Ministers leading left-wing coalitions; Social Democratic Prime Ministers were in power nearly continuously from 1924 until 1982. The first Prime Minister from the Conservative People's Party, Poul Schlüter, came to power as the head of a broad centre-right coalition in 1982. The centre-right coalition ruled in 1993, last for eleven years, made it became the longest centre-right government in Denmark history since 1920s.

In November 2001 the left-wing coalition in the Folketing lost seats to the right-wing coalition led by Venstre, ending their eight years rule. Venstre became the largest party since 1924. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, leader of Venstre, served as the Prime Minister from 2001 to April 2009. His coalition government consisted of Venstre and the Conservative People's Party, with parliamentary support from the national-conservative Danish People's Party (Dansk Folkeparti). On 5 April 2009, Rasmussen resigned to become Secretary General of NATO, leaving minister of finance and vice president of Venstre Lars Løkke Rasmussen to be the Prime Minister.

Following the September 2011 election the right-wing lost by a small margin to the opposing centre-left coalition, led by Helle Thorning-Schmidt who on 3 October 2011 formed a new government initially consisting of the Social Democrats, the Danish Social Liberal Party and the Socialist People's Party. Following a general election defeat, in June 2015 Thorning-Schmidt resigned as Prime Minister and was succeeded by Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who heads a minority government consisting entirely of ministers from Venstre.

Role and authority

The Constitution of Denmark states that the Monarch, who is the head of state, has supreme authority and acts out this power through their ministers. [4] The Monarch formally appoints and dismisses ministers, including the Prime Minister. [5] In a sense, the Prime Minister only has the power that is given by the Monarch, according to the Constitution.

Although the country's leading politician, the Prime Minister is not nearly as powerful as other prime ministers in Europe. This is mainly because it is nearly impossible for one party to get a majority of seats in the Folketing (Parliament), so the government is always a coalition between two or more parties. No Danish party has won a majority since 1901, and for much of that time there has not even been a majority coalition. [6] Because of his limited powers, the Prime Minister is primus inter pares (first among equals). [6] Additionally, as a result of the weak control they have over parliament, the Prime Minister must cobble together a majority for each piece of legislation.

Although, as stated, the Monarch formally appoints all ministers of the cabinet freely, in practice Monarchs only conventionally select the Prime Minister after a leader has gathered support from a majority in the Folketing. A single party rarely has a majority in the Folketing, instead parties form alliances; usually the Social Democrats with centre-left parties, and Venstre with centre-right parties. Following elections when there is no clear leader, the Monarch will hold a "King/Queen's meeting" where, after a series of discussions and agreements, the leader of the largest alliance and the largest party within that alliance—usually the Social Democrats or Venstre- is appointed as Prime Minister-elect (kongelig undersøger) . The new Prime Minister-elect, together with the leaders of the junior parties, select ministers to form a new coalition cabinet, which is the presented to the Monarch.

The Prime Minister chairs the weekly meetings of the council of ministers and has the power to set the agenda of these meetings. The Prime Minister traditionally gathers together a government ministry known as the "Ministry of the State of Denmark" (Statsministeriet) or Prime Minister's Office. [3] Atypical of a Danish ministry it does not have any councils, boards or committees associated with it and its near sole responsibility is to act as the secretariat of the Prime Minister. There is a small department under the ministry that takes care of special legal issues not covered under other ministries, among others Greenland's and Faroe Islands relation to the Monarchy, the mass media's contact to the State, number of ministers in the government, or Queen Margrethe II legal status as a civilian.

The Prime Minister, by convention, chooses to dissolve the Folketing and call a new election (although this is formally undertaken by the Monarch), which the Prime Minister is obligated to do within four years of the previous election. In spite of this, the Prime Minister has no say with respect to Denmark's autonomous regions, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, while the Folketing on the other hand does, as all laws passed by the Faroese and Greenlandic parliaments must be ratified by the Folketing.

There exist checks on the Prime Minister's power; the Folketing may revoke its confidence in an incumbent Prime Minister, in which case the Prime Minister must either resign along with the entire cabinet or ask the Monarch to dissolve the Folketing and call a new election. Whenever a Prime Minister resigns, dies, or is forced from office, the Monarch asks them (or, in the case of death, the next available leader in a coalition) to keep the government as a caretaker government until a successor has been elected.


The government offices, including the Ministry of the State of Denmark (Statsministeriet; The Prime Minister's Office), is located inside Christiansborg Palace, along with the Folketing and the courts.

The official summer residence of the Prime Minister is Marienborg, an eighteenth-century estate that was acquired by the State. It is situated on the shore of Lake Bagsværd in Kgs. Lyngby, 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) north of Copenhagen. It has served as an official summer residence for ten Prime Ministers since 1960. Marienborg is frequently used for governmental conferences and informal summits between the government, industry and organisations in Denmark.

List of Prime Ministers

Living former Prime Ministers

See also


  1. Protocol and Liaison Service Archived 2012-11-16 at WebCite , United Nations.
  2. Statsministeriet (28 November 2016). "State Council Order" (PDF) (in Danish). Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Statsministeriet (The Prime Minister's Office) - History. Access date: 1 September 2012
  4. "Section 12". Constitution of Denmark. ICL. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  5. "Section 14". Constitution of Denmark. ICL. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  6. 1 2 Strom, Kaare; Muller, Wolfgang C.; Bergman, Torbjorn, eds. (2006). Delegation and Accountability in Parliamentary Democracies . Retrieved September 3, 2012.

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