Denmark. In February, the Folketing decided that the new
road link to Germany should be built in the form of a tunnel
under the Fehmarn belt instead of a bridge. The tunnel
construction is scheduled to start in 2014 and is scheduled
to be completed by 2020. The train journey between
Copenhagen and Hamburg will thus be shortened, by one and a
half hours, to three hours.
In February, a 29-year-old Somali was sentenced to nine
years in prison for attempting to murder the Danish Muhammad
cartoonist Kurt Westergaard at the New Year one year
earlier. According to the security police, the Somali had
ties to the Islamist al-Shabab movement.
Countryaah official site, the refugee Christiania in Copenhagen lost a multi-year
legal dispute in February when the Supreme Court declared
that the Danish state's decision-making law and laws apply
in Christiania, where residents, among others, traded in
drugs and refused to pay rent and municipal fees. To secure
their future in Christiania, the approximately 750 residents
decided to form a mutual fund to buy off the area's
properties that the government wants to privatize.
After fierce criticism from the opposition, the
contentious Minister of Integration Birthe Rønn Hornbech was
forced to resign in March. Denmark had rejected applications
for citizenship from 36 stateless Palestinians born in
Denmark in contravention of UN conventions. Søren Pind
became the new Minister of Integration.
The government's support party The Danish People's Party
demanded in the spring that Denmark should reintroduce
border control, which was abolished in the Schengen
cooperation. The motivation was to stop increased
cross-border crime. The proposal met opposition in the EU,
and the press became fierce on Prime Minister Lars Løkke
Rasmussen, who needed the Danish People's Party's support
for unpopular and long-term budget savings in a situation
when Denmark's economy was getting worse. An agreement was
reached to shorten the so-called early salary from five to
three years and gradually increase the age for national
pension from 65 to 67 years. The price for the settlement
became a contentious tightening of border control against
Sweden and Germany, which in the EU was seen as a violation
of the Schengen agreement and free movement within the
The continuing negotiations on economic policy between
the government and the Danish People's Party broke in August
in disagreement over a so-called growth package. The prime
minister then announced parliamentary elections at short
notice until September 15.
The opinion polls showed the takeover of the opposition,
led by the Social Democrats (S) and the Socialist People's
Party (SF), who accused the government of failing economic
policy. In the wake of the global financial crisis, the
strong Danish economy had weakened, the budget deficit grew
and since 2008 the government had taken over nine banks that
had failed to manage the crisis. S leader Helle
Thorning-Schmidt promised increased government stimulus in
the economy, announced increased taxes and fees to
strengthen the budget and proposed a twelve-minute longer
working day for economic growth.
After a decade of bourgeois rule, the election led to a
shift in power. S and SF together with the middle party
Radical Venstre (R) and the left-wing radical Enhedslisten
(EL) gained a majority in the Folketing with 89 seats
against 87 for the bourgeois parties.
R and EL were the big winners, while SF went back
strongly. S also made a bad choice and lost a mandate. The
outgoing Prime Minister Løkke Rasmussen's party Left
remained the largest in the Folketing. Despite this, S
leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt (44 years) was able to start
negotiations on a new government coalition, where she became
Denmark's first female prime minister.
The new government took office in October. It consisted
of eleven S ministers and six from each R and SF. New
Foreign Minister became SF leader Villy Søvndal, while
Social Democrat Bjarne Corydon (38 years) became new finance
minister. The tripartite government had 77 of the
Folketing's 175 Danish mandates but had the support of the
twelve members of the Enhedslist and of three members from
Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt said in his government
statement that cross-border crime would be combated within
the Schengen cooperation, which meant an end to the
EU-criticized stricter border control.
On October 1, Denmark, as the first country in the world,
introduced a special tax on food containing more than 2.3%
saturated fat. The decision had been made by the outgoing
government but was supported by the new coalition, which
planned to raise the fat tax.
A protracted debate over Thorning-Schmidt's and her
husband's tax affairs in December resulted in a commission
of inquiry. The question then was whether the former prime
minister's head of press before the election leaked
confidential information about the opponent Thorning-Schmidt
to the press. When the Commission was appointed to the
police, the former press officer was notified by the
Ministry of Taxation.