Posts Tagged ‘education’

New centre-left coalition government brings Denmark’s first woman prime minister to power

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

By Michael de Laine, 4th October 2011

Led by Denmark’s first woman prime minister, a new centre-left coalition government took office on Monday, 3 October. The new government includes the country’s first minister with an immigrant background and the youngest minister in the whole of Europe. It aims at being a government for the whole of Denmark.

Led by Denmark’s first woman prime minister, a new centre-left coalition government took office on Monday, 3 October, just 24 hours before the official opening of Folketinget, the Danish parliament.

The coalition government, comprising the Social Democrats, the Socialist People’s Party and the Social Liberals, does not have a majority in the 179-seat parliament. But it does enjoy some support from the Red/Greens and three of the four politicians elected by Greenland and the Faroe Islands – who will not vote unconditionally for all of the coalition’s policies, but rather prevent the coalition from being voted down.

As well as Denmark’s first woman prime minister, the Social Democrat leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the coalition includes the country’s first minister with an immigrant background and the youngest minister in the whole of Europe. And it is the first time that the Socialist People’s Party is part of a Danish government.

Through these developments, the election, on 15 September, and the subsequent government and political agreement between the three coalition parties, have changed the Danish parliamentary picture for ever.

The election results altered the balance both between and in the red and blue blocs. In the last election, on 13 November 2007, the red bloc had 81 seats of the 175 seats (excluding the four seats elected by Greenland and the Faroe Islands), while the blue bloc had 94 seats. In the new election, the red bloc has 89 seats and the blue bloc has 86 seats.

Election 2011 2007

Red bloc 89 81

Social Democrats * 44 45

Socialist People’s Party * 16 23

Social Liberals * 17 9

Red/Greens § 12 4

Blue bloc 86 94

Liberals (Venstre) * 47 46

Conservative People’s Party * 8 18

Danish People’s Party § 22 25

Liberal Alliance (New Alliance) § 9 5

* Coalition partners

§ Parliamentary supporters

The Liberals thus cemented their position as Denmark’s largest party, just ahead of the Social Democrats.

The loss of seats for the Conservative People’s Party was a result of criticism of the party’s former leader and minister of foreign affairs, and of the new leader’s bland profile; and the loss of seats for the Danish People’s Party resulted from popular dissatisfaction of the party’s continued efforts to introduce even tougher regulations for immigrants and its launch of a strengthened border controls.

The loss of seats for the Social Democrats and the Socialist People’s Party resulted from their efforts over the past two years to work together in a coalition government – many Socialist People’s Party voters saw them moving too close to the political centre, and they voted for the ultra-leftist Red/Greens (actually and originally a mixture of Communists, Leninists/Marxists and workers’ party politicians), which tripled in size.

The gains of the centrist Social Liberals are seen as supporting the party’s politics of having a balanced financial and economic policy combined with a social conscience. The Social Liberals also made clear before and during the electioneering that they would support Helle Thorning-Schmidt as prime minister.

During 14 days of discussions between the three coalition partners, the new government aims at being a government for the whole of Denmark.

It wants political collaboration across the centre, rather than stiff bloc policies.

The government will introduce a tax reform, cutting income taxes; it will kick-start the economy and hold discussions between the government, employers and employees to generate growth and jobs; and it will introduce initiatives towards a green economy, by promoting sustainable energy sources, better public transport and supporting green-economy businesses.

The coalition will develop the education system to ensure a better level of education generally, to meet the needs of an open economy that must compete on knowledge. It will introduce better immigration and integration policies. And it will strengthen Denmark’s participation in EU, including referendums on the country’s opt-outs covering defence and judicial collaboration.

New group will turn Denmark into the birthplace for 21st century citizenship 

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

By Michael de Laine, Copenhagen, 5th June 2010 – Constitution Day

Danish society should be freer, more cohesive, more responsible and more tolerant, says Citizen 21, an organisation of all citizens who believe in democracy, humanity wherever it is, life in all its forms, freedom and peace. The organisation, which was officially launched today, also wants to spread these values around the world, just as the philosophy of Grundtvig has spread worldwide over the past 150 years.

Denmark is rich in islands, but it is not an isolated island in the world,” says Aziz Fall, the founder and resident of Citizen21, which terms itself an organisation of all citizens who believe in democracy, humanity wherever it is, life in all its forms, freedom and peace.

Officially launched today, Constitution Day, the organisation will work to turn Danish society into a freer, more cohesive, more responsible and more tolerant society that can become the birthplace for 21st century citizenship.

Using the Danish constitution – first signed on 5 June 1849 by King Frederick VII to mark Denmark’s transition to constitutional monarchy, thus putting an end to the absolute monarchy which had been introduced in Denmark in 1660 – as the background for Citizen21, Aziz Fall says, “Denmark has something to give to the world, and the time is right. We have the resources, the spiritual ballast and we have something in our mind. From this foundation we can build bridges and conquer the 21st century.”

He adds that doing this means the Danes themselves must wake up and become conscious and active citizens who will work to promote Citizen21’s ideas

The organisation “will draw on the country’s history in democracy, liberty and sense of social responsibility to show how a society can prepare for the challenges of the 21st century.

As well as turn Denmark into the birthplace for 21st century citizenship, Citizen21 wants to strengthen Denmark’s good reputation around the world. It will promote a more responsible civic society, where individual and joint responsibility go hand in hand, as well as consolidate the principle of freedom of expression, democracy and respect for diversity.

Aziz Fall, a Senegalese who came to Denmark 10 years ago, says the members of Citizen21 are “united by the single will to see the country more open, where everybody who lives here feels part of a human adventure where respect, dignity and active citizenship are a reality; where everybody is aware of their opportunities and obligations toward themselves, each other and the world around us.”

Citizen21 and the speakers at the official launch drew on the philosophy of Nikolaj Frederik Severin (N F S) Grundtvig, a Danish pastor, author, poet, philosopher, historian, teacher and politician whose philosophy gave rise to a new form of nationalism in the last half of the 19th century.

Grundtvig and his followers are credited with being very influential in the formulation of modern Danish national consciousness. It was steeped in the national literature and supported by deep spirituality.

An inspiration for many educationalists around the world, Grundtvig is regarded as the ideological father of the folk high school movement through his ambition for a school for life. Grundtvig believed schools should provide life-long learning preparing students for active participation in society and popular life, so practical skills as well as national poetry and history should form an essential part of the instruction.

Through his, for that time, highly unorthodox way of teaching, Kristen Kold, one of Grundtvig’s followers, gave the folk high schools a broader democratic basis in comparison to the initial religious focus.

Grundtvig was also active in discussions about the development of the 1849 constitution.

The founders of Citizen21 say they have no unity of political views or religious obedience or cultural background. They say they “are a pure reflection of the society and our belief is that the core values of democracy and humanity that founded our community provide us with tools to overcome differences and build a 21st model of society.”