Denmark's Prime Minister calls a general election
Danes told they will go to the polls
Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt announced on the 27th of May that the general election would take place on the 18th of June. The Social Democrat thinks it is time to let voters decide after 18 months of growth in Denmark. Thorning-Schmidt says that her government has taken the country out of the financial crisis of 2008-09 when it was harder hit than most others.
Helle-Thorning Schmidt governs Denmark with a centre-left minority coalition after the Socialist’s Peoples party withdrew its support in a dispute over the sale of 19 per cent of the biggest energy firm to US bank Goldman Sachs.
Since then, economic policy has been less “left” under the influence of the centre coalition partner “Radikale Venstre”. Helle Thorning-Schmidt promises less austerity, more growth and more social welfare projects.
Her opponents promise less taxation and lower immigration.
Denmark's First female Prime Minister
Thorning-Schmidt’s election victory in 2011 brought the left back to power after 10 years in opposition.
With the highest female employment rate in the EU – 72.4% of women and 76.5% men are working, occupational equality is hailed as a success in Denmark. 38.3% women work part-time along with 14.3% of men.
Gender impact assessment for Denmark
Some say, however, that the government could do more for gender equality.
Denmark’s international image is also shaped by the award-winning Danish TV series Borgen – the story of the first female Prime Minister of Denmark.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel ® with Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the Marienborg Palace, the official residence of the Danish prime minister in Lyngby, Denmark April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Lekfeldt/Scanpix
More popular than her opponent
Even though centre right political parties have been leading in the polls for years, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who is now 48, is more popular than opposition leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen who was Danish PM from 2009 to 2011. He was criticized for using tax payers’ money for clothes and private travel for himself and his family.
Supporters of both parties cheer for their candidates as Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt (L) and opposition leader Lars Lokke Rasmussen hold their first one-on-one debate held in a temporary television studio outside the Danish parliament building, in Copenhagen May 31, 2015. REUTERS/Keld Navntoft/Scanpix Denmark
Married to British MP
Since 1996, Helle Thorning-Schmidt has been the wife of the British Labour MP Stephen Kinnock (who is the son of former British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock). Her husband was elected to the British parliament in the May 2015 elections. She is the only PM in Europe who is married to an MP from another country.
They have two daughters, Johanna and Camilla.
Before the last British elections she was living with her daughters in Copenhagen while her husband lived in Switzerland. There have also been accusations of tax evasion in Denmark against her husband.
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, stands with her husband Stephen Kinnock and daughter Johanna at the election count for the Aberavon Constituency, where Kinnock is standing, in the Neath Sports Centre, Neath, South Wales, May 8, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
Nickname "Gucci Helle"
Helle Thorning-Schmidt has the image of an “extravagant” woman who likes to buy expensive clothes, bags and shoes. She was shown by the press tripping over her high heel boots on some stairs in Paris. Her critics say that her speeches are “mechanical”. But after the recent terror attacks in Copenhagen she was seen crying at funerals which gave her a more positive image in the public.
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and opposition leader Lars Lokke Rasmussen (not pictured) attend their first one-on-one debate held in a temporary television studio outside the Danish parliament building, in Copenhagen May 31, 2015. Thorning-Schmidt called an election for June 18 in which her centre-left Social Democrats will face stiff competition from the centre-right Liberals who want more curbs on immigration and limits on state spending. REUTERS/Keld Navntoft/Scanpix Denmark
But she was also seen in January 2014 shovelling away the snow in front of her house. The picture was distributed on Twitter.
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