Denmark Contemporary History
According to computerminus, failures in foreign policy led the new governments to focus mainly on improving the domestic situation. Neutral during the First World War, in the interval between the two world wars, Denmark (which in 1920 had obtained northern Schleswig by referendum) implemented substantial economic and social reforms. This period had among its protagonists Thorvald Stauning, exponent of the Social Democracy who had inserted himself at the political leadership of the nation. In 1939, after signing a non-aggression pact with Germany, it was invaded by the latter (April 9, 1940). The occupation lasted 5 years and from 1943, when the Resistance was able to organize itself, the break with the German authorities, which at the beginning were relatively tolerant, was decisive. Frederick IX and in that same year the elections decreed the success of the Social Democrats. The new government (1948) had the support of the Marshall Plan and the following year joined the Atlantic Pact. In 1953 Denmark contributed to the establishment of the Nordic Council: in the same year a new constitution introduced a unicameral parliamentary system. Under Margrethe II, who succeeded Frederick IX in 1972, Denmark joined the EEC on 1 January 1973. At the beginning of the seventies, with the decline of social democratic hegemony, a period of government instability began. Liberals and Social Democrats, after alternating in minority governments, were forced to form short-lived coalition governments until, in 1982, the Conservative Party of P. Schlüter came to power, which, remaining at the helm of the country throughout the 1980s, imposed a significant turning point in the country’s economic policy, compressing social spending and encouraging private enterprise. However, these choices provoked a radicalization of political life which manifested itself in the positive results achieved by formations located at the extremes of traditional parties. This led to a situation of difficult governability, demonstrated by the fact that the conservative-led executives that followed one another since 1988 were forced to operate without a true parliamentary majority and only in 1993 the Social Democrats, who had won the elections three years earlier, managed to form a new government, whose leadership was entrusted to Poul Nyrup Rasmussen. The uncertainties of the political situation also favored isolationist pressures, as demonstrated by the negative result of the referendum on Maastricht Treaty (June 2, 1992).
After a year the Danes approved the accession to the treaty with the derogations specifically foreseen for Denmark, but this was not a real reversal of the trend. The resistances to European unification, in fact, re-emerged on the occasion of the elections for the Strasbourg Parliament (1994) with the success of the anti-community lists. The uncertainties of the political framework also led to a new early dissolution of the Danish Legislative Assembly, the Folketing. The electoral result (1994) attributed undoubted success to the Liberals who increased by 13 seats, but the Social Democrats, while recording a slight decline, single European currency, putting in difficulty the government of Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, promoter of the electoral consultation, which in any case reaffirmed the country’s participation in the European Union. After nine years in government, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen’s Social Democrats lost their majority in the 2001 legislative elections. Andreas Fogh Rasmussen, leader of the liberals who led the center-right majority coalition, supported by the far-right Danish People’s Party, was appointed head of the executive. The party had established itself in the elections as the third political group in the country by organizing an electoral campaign that leveraged anti-Islamic sentiments, aroused by the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States. In September 2003, a referendum brought back to the citizens the question of the country’s entry into the single European currency, but the outcome of the polls was again negative. In the early elections of February 2005, decided by Prime Minister AF Rasmussen, the center-right coalition maintained the majority in parliament thanks to the notable decline of the Social Democrats.
In September, the publication of some satirical cartoons about Muhammad sparked a series of protests across the Islamic world. In January 2007, the administrative reform that revolutionized the system of local self-government came into force, eliminating the traditional subdivision into counties. In 2007, early legislative elections were held which were again won by the liberal coalition (V) of Rasmussen, making however necessary the alliance with the right-wing party (DF). At the NATO summit in April 2009, Rasmussen was appointed secretary general of the organization; Lars Løkke Rasmussen was appointed premier. On the occasion of the European elections in June of that year, citizens approved by referendum a constitutional amendment that guarantees equality between men and women in the succession to the throne. In June the new statute came into force which regulated a greater autonomy of Greenland, in view of a possible independence. In September 2011, the political elections won by the center-left coalition (89 seats out of 179), led by the Social Democrats, took place; its leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt became premier, the first woman in the country to hold that office. In the 2015 general elections, the Social Democrats won, but the populist Danish People’s Party achieved an excellent result. Lars Løkke Rasmussen became prime minister again.