Although Denmark had not contributed so much
to the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, the
country was still accepted, thanks to the efforts of the
resistance movement, which allied with the victorious
powers. Denmark could thus join the UN from the founding
of the organization in 1945.
Negotiations with Sweden and Norway on a Scandinavian
defense union failed, as Norway and Denmark considered
it necessary to join the Western powers, while Sweden
wanted to maintain its freedom of alliance, partly
because of Finland, which after the war was forced to
sign a so-called friendship and aid pact with USSR. In
1949, Denmark, Norway and Iceland joined and signed the
Atlantic Pact, which quickly developed into the NATO
defense alliance. But Denmark, like Norway, made two
reservations: nuclear weapons must not be stationed on
Danish territory in peacetime and foreign troops may not
be permanently based in the country.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Denmark. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
By the end of the 1940s, Denmark was poor. But
Marshall's assistance from the United States to war-torn
Europe and the establishment of the Organization for
European Economic Cooperation (OEEC, now the OECD)
marked the beginning of two decades of rapid economic
growth and increased welfare. Above all, the industry
and the service sector grew.
The political arena was dominated by two blocs: the
Left Party and the Conservative People's Party on the
right and the Social Democrats with some support from
the Socialist People's Party on the left. On top of that
came the small but influential middle party Radical
Economic crisis and EC membership
The 1970s meant major changes in the economy and
domestic and foreign policy. Because Denmark had said no
to nuclear power, the country depended on coal and oil
imports. In addition, Denmark had for many years had a
deficit in the state budget and in its economic exchange
with the outside world. The country was therefore
vulnerable when the oil crisis of 1973-74 led to a
five-fold increase in oil prices. The economy was hit
hard, production growth stopped, real incomes stagnated
and unemployment grew.
The old parties lost voters and several new small
parties were elected to the parliament, including the
populist dissatisfaction party Progress Party, led by
the self-assured Mogens Glistrup. Since then, the Danes
have only been able to form coalition governments or
relatively weak minority governments.
The biggest foreign policy event in the 1970s was
that Denmark, together with the United Kingdom and
Ireland, joined the EC in 1973 (now the EU). Thus,
Denmark left the free trade association Efta which
Denmark helped to found in 1960 together with, among
others, Sweden, Norway and the UK. The decision to join
the EC was preceded by a referendum in which 63.5
percent of voters voted in favor of the proposal.
In 1982, the Social Democratic government could no
longer get the Radical Left's support for its economic
policies. Social Democratic Prime Minister Anker
Jørgensen gave up, and a bourgeois coalition government
under Poul Schlüter from the Conservative People's Party
was formed with parliamentary support from the Radical
Left. This and three subsequent Schlüter governments
remained in power for more than ten years until January
1993. Through a tight economic policy and an
international boom, they succeeded in reversing economic
development. The budget deficit was reduced and the
Danish krone's rate was locked to the stable German
D-mark. Inflation fell as production and exports grew.
In 1987 Denmark gained a surplus in foreign trade in
goods and services and this situation has continued
since then. However, unemployment remained high.
Controversy over security policy
Foreign policy was characterized by a party-political
struggle during the 1980s. The Social Democrats in
opposition could not easily profile themselves by
attacking economic policy after their own failure and
instead focused on security policy. In this area alone,
they could count on the support of the Radical Left and
thus gain a majority in the parliament if they opposed
only the policy they themselves had for years in
reasonable agreement with the bourgeois parties.
Together with the Radical Left and Socialist People's
Party, the Social Democrats could force the government
to renounce certain NATO decisions (see Foreign Policy
and Defense). However, the government chose to remain,
as a new election would hardly have changed the
situation and the economy was the highest priority. For
the same reason, the Radical Left did not want to
conduct a vote of no confidence to force the government
After the parliamentary elections in 1988, the
Radical left instead joined the government and thus an
extremely problematic period in Danish foreign policy
was largely over. After the upheavals in Eastern and
Central Europe from 1989, the Social Democrats rejoined
the mainstream of foreign policy.
Exceptions to the Maastricht Treaty
In the summer of 1992, the Danes held a referendum on
the Maastricht Treaty, which meant that the EC would be
strengthened and transformed into the EU, including an
economic and monetary union (EMU) with a common central
bank and currency. Together with the bourgeois
government, the Social Democracy advocated a yes to the
EU, but the party failed to bring its electorate with
it. The vote ended with an overweight for the no-side of
just over 1 percentage point (50.7 percent versus 49.3).
The subsequent French vote turned out to be an
equally scarce yes. These two results caused political
and financial turmoil throughout Europe. In Denmark, a
compromise was formed as the basis for a new referendum.
The goal was to get the Socialist People's Party
leadership to agree to a yes. The party thus gained
decisive influence over the design of the compromise and
demanded that Denmark should be outside certain parts of
the treaty. The EU accepted four Danish exemptions.
Among other things, Denmark did not participate in the
currency union EMU, in judicial and police cooperation
and in any defense cooperation (see Foreign Policy and
Defense). Thus, the Danes had a pretext to hold a
referendum again. In May 1993 they voted in favor of the
Social Democratic Government
In 1993, Schlüter's government resigned following a
scandal surrounding the Justice Department's treatment
of Tamil asylum seekers. The Social Democracy, under
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen's leadership, formed a minority
government with the Radical Left, the Christian People's
Party and the small middle party Centrum-Demokraterne.
The government remained after the 1994 elections, but
without the Christian People's Party that fell out of
Before the 1997 budget, the government tried in vain
to settle with the bourgeois opposition on a program
that would wipe out the deficit in the state budget.
Nyrup Rasmussen was instead forced to turn left to the
Socialist People's Party and the Enhedslisten, who
agreed to a budget settlement in exchange for the
government increasing social spending. The result was
that the Center Democrats left the government ahead of
the threat that the coalition would continue to depend
on the left parties. Social democracy then ruled on with
only the Radical Left.
Ahead of the municipal elections in November 1997, a
new party, the Danish People's Party, attracted
considerable attention through its rapid success in
public opinion. The party had been formed in 1995 by Pia
Kjaersgaard, who, after a long power struggle, was
appointed leader of the Progress Party. The party's
message was to safeguard the "Danish" and the welfare of
the little man in front of what the party saw as threats
from immigrants, refugees and the EU. This gave growing
opinion figures and in the municipal elections the party
got 6.8 percent of the votes.
1998 - dramatic election
At the 1998 general election, the Social Democracy
and Prime Minister Nyrup Rasmussen won by the lowest
possible margin (176 votes in the Faroe Islands). The
major winner of the election became the Danish People's
Party, which entered the parliament with 13 seats. The
Social Democrats formed government with the Radical
Left. In the parliament, the government parties had an
overweight mandate over the opposition.
The government announced a new referendum on joining
EMU in 2000. Despite the fact that the government, three
quarters of the MPs, the trade union movement, the
business community and the serious press argued for a
membership, more than 53 percent of Danes voted against
the proposal. The result was a severe blow to the
government, which lost power the following year.
Nyrup Rasmusen announced elections in the fall of
2001. After just over eight years in power, the
government seemed tired and insecure, especially when it
came to issues such as how welfare would be secured,
immigration issues resolved and EU membership handled.
The election was won by Venstre, who went ahead
strongly and became the country's largest party while
the Social Democrats lost support. Left leader Anders
Fogh Rasmussen formed a minority government with his own
party and the Conservative People's Party. The
coalition, however, became dependent on support from the
Danish People's Party, which made a strong choice and
almost doubled the number of seats.
One year after the election, the Social Democrats
replaced Nyrup Rasmussen with Mogens Lykketoft, who was
previously Finance Minister and Foreign Minister.
Tighter refugee policy
The election result meant that immigration and
refugee policies were tightened. Among other things, a
person must have spent seven years in the country, as
opposed to three years earlier, in order to obtain a
permanent residence permit. In order to prevent arranged
marriages, the government set an age limit, so that
Danish citizens and immigrants living in Denmark may
only get a partner to the country if they are both at
least 24 years old and their overall connection to
Denmark is greater than to the other country (there are,
however, a number of exceptions).
The bourgeois government put a stop to tax increases,
but increased funding for the health care and the
elderly to cut queues. For this to come together, it cut
down on a number of other areas, including aid to
developing countries being reduced from 1.0 to 0.9
percent of GDP. The aid share of GDP has subsequently
fallen to 0.87 percent (2015), but is still among the
five highest in the world. By comparison, the
contributions to the country's two small autonomous
countries Greenland and the Faroe Islands are 0.23
percent of GDP.
As a result of the terrorist attacks against the
United States on September 11, 2001, in June 2002,
Denmark tightened its preparedness against terrorism
with a legislation called "Anti-terrorism package 1". It
was followed by the terrorist act in London in 2005 of
"Anti-terrorism package 2".
During the second half of 2002, Danish politics
became dominated by the Danish Presidency of the EU
during the decisive phase of the negotiations on the
enlargement of the Union with ten new member states.
After several compromises, the 13 old members were able
to welcome the 10 new ones at the Copenhagen EU summit
in December of the same year.
The government's decision to participate in the 2003
US invasion of Iraq (see Foreign Policy and Defense)
caused much criticism. Denmark has already participated
in the NATO effort against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Fogh Rasmussen left after the 2005 election
Fogh Rasmussen's government continued to receive
support in the parliamentary elections in February 2005.
The Left rebelled slightly, while the Conservative
People's Party and the Danish People's Party went ahead.
Radical left the best. Social democracy made its worst
choice in 40 years. A former minister analyzed the
decline like this: The Danish People's Party has taken
our workers, Radical left our intellectuals and Venstre
After the election, the focus was soon shifted back
to Denmark's military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan
and to the Danish view of Muslims and Islam. In
September 2005, the Jyllands-Posten newspaper asked
twelve subscribers to relate to the threats and violence
committed in the name of Prophet Muhammad. Especially
one of the drawings, which was said to represent the
Prophet Muhammad dressed in a turban and with a bomb,
aroused anger among many Muslims in Denmark and a few
months later also abroad (see further Foreign Policy and
In 2006 and 2007, ten people (from three different
groups) were sentenced to between five and twelve years
in prison for preparations for terrorist acts and in one
of the cases for threats against the Prime Minister and
the Jewish population of Denmark. Most of them were
Danish citizens of foreign origin.
New election adversity for the government
The November 2007 election became a hardship for
Prime Minister Fogh Rasmussen. Left went back again but
remained the biggest party. The coalition partner
Conservative People's Party retained its mandate, and
the support party Danish People's Party increased
slightly. Thus, the minority government could remain in
power. The election's big winner became the Socialist
People's Party, which more than doubled its number of
Police powers were debated in 2008. At the beginning
of the year, the security police arrested three people
of North African descent suspected of murder plans
against one of the Jutland Posten's Mohammed
cartoonists. The arrest of one of the arrested persons
was tried and rejected by the Supreme Court.
Prime Minister Fogh Rasmussen was elected
Secretary-General of NATO in the spring of 2009 and
succeeded as head of government by his party colleague,
Finance Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen. He was also
elected new party chairman in Venstre.
The financial crisis is reaching Denmark
The political debate was dominated by economic
issues. There was uncertainty in the outside world and
the global economic crisis began to feel in Denmark as
well. The country's gross domestic product (GDP) shrank
in 2008–2009 and property prices fell. The political
debate was mainly about how tax and pension systems
would be reformed. The asylum and immigration issue
discussed how to deal with rejected asylum seekers and
to some extent restrict immigration and improve
In August 2009, the Social Democracy and Socialist
People's Party began a new collaboration aimed at the
government after the next election. They proposed tax
increases for high-income earners and lower taxes for
low-income earners. The Social Democracy thus changed
political partner after many years of cooperation with
the Radical Left.
In early 2010, Løkke Rasmussen tried to make his own
mark on the government through a major transformation.
Defense Minister Søren Gade and six other ministers
resigned, and Denmark got its first female foreign
minister, Lene Espersen, and its first female defense
minister, Gitte Lillelund Bech.
Savings packages receive criticism
Løkke Rasmussen's government was subjected to harsh
criticism from the left because of a savings package in
the spring, with a halt to state and municipal spending
increases. The aim was to meet the EU's requirements for
a limited budget deficit.
In the autumn, the prime minister launched an
offensive against the immigrant-tight neighborhoods of
the big cities, which he believed had been transformed
into ghettos. In October, the government presented a
plan to return the ghettos to society, as it was called.
This included, among other things, better housing,
better conditions for children and young people, help to
move to other areas, increased police efforts against
crime and immigration stops for immigrants.
In November 2010, the government and the Danish
People's Party agreed on a new foreign law, which
included a contentious points system for immigrants.
Well educated, linguistic and vocational people would
sooner be granted permanent residence permits, similar
to those in large immigrant countries such as Canada and
Australia. The system was criticized as discriminatory
and was abolished in May 2012.
Attestation plans against the Jutland Post and
Politiken offices in Copenhagen were revealed and five
suspects were arrested in Copenhagen and Stockholm at
the end of 2010. According to the government, Denmark
was the most serious terror threat to date.
In the spring of 2011, the government succeeded in
agreeing with the Danish People's Party and the Radical
Left on long-term savings, which among other things
meant worse pension conditions. The so-called early
retirement pension for those who retire prematurely
would be gradually reduced from five to three years, and
the retirement age would be increased from 65 to 67
years, but not until 2022.
Negotiations continued on an economic growth package.
On this issue, however, the government could not win the
support of the Danish People's Party, and the Prime
Minister thus announced the parliamentary elections
until September 15, 2011.