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Ear to the Ground

Denmark Elects First Female Prime Minister

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Posted on Sep 16, 2011
AP / Jens Dresling

The people of Denmark elected their first female prime minister Thursday, bringing the center-left Social Democratic Party to power after 10 years with a right-wing government.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt won the office of prime minister when the opposition coalition she led won a narrow majority of the Parliament’s 179 seats.

The new government means Denmark may get the chance to push off some of the austerity measures that former Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen introduced during Europe’s debt crisis. —BF

The Huffington Post:

A power shift isn’t likely to yield major changes in consensus-oriented Denmark, where there is broad agreement on the need for a robust welfare system financed by high taxes.

But the two sides differ on the depth of austerity measures needed to keep Denmark’s finances intact amid the uncertainty of the global economy.

Thorning-Schmidt, 44, wants to protect the welfare system by raising taxes on the rich and extending the average working day by 12 minutes.

Loekke Rasmussen says tax hikes would harm the competitiveness of a nation that already has the highest tax pressure in the world.

“We need sound public finances without raising taxes,” Loekke Rasmussen, 47, told reporters after casting his ballot in Graested, north of Copenhagen.

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