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DENMARK
Folketinget (The Danish Parliament)

This page contains the full text of the PARLINE database entry on the selected parliamentary chamber, with the exception of Oversight and Specialized bodies modules which, because of their excessive length, can be only viewed and printed separately.

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GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE PARLIAMENTARY CHAMBER

Parliament name (generic / translated) Folketinget / Parliament
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Structure of parliament Unicameral
Affiliation to the IPU Yes
Affiliation date(s) 1889 -
LEADERSHIP
President Mogens Lykketoft (M) 
Notes Elected on 4 Oct. 2011.
Secretary General Carsten U. Larsen (M) 
COMPOSITION
Members (statutory / current number) 179 / 179
PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN


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Women (current number) 70 (39.11%)
Mode of designation directly elected 179
Term 4 years maximum.
Notes The Prime Minister may at any time within the 4-year period call new elections.
Last renewal dates 15 September 2011
(View details)
CONTACT INFORMATION
Address Folketinget
Christiansborg
DK - 1240 COPENHAGEN K
(Export mailing lists)
Phone (45) 33 37 55 00
Fax (45) 33 89 36 20
33 89 55 17
E-mail folketinget@folketinget.dk
Mette.Vestergaard@ft.dk
Website
http://www.ft.dk

ELECTORAL SYSTEM

Parliament name (generic / translated) Folketinget / Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Electoral law 13 May 1987
Last amendment: 10/04/1991
Mode of designation directly elected 179
Constituencies 10 multi-member constituencies corresponding to counties, subdivided into 92 nomination districts.
Voting system Proportional: Proportional representation system according to a modified version of the St. Laguë method and Hare quota and using the method of greatest remainders. Each elector can cast either a "personal vote" for one of the candidates or a vote for one of the party lists. They can vote for any of the candidates or parties of their constituency, not being limited to those of their nomination district.

Of the 175 seats reserved for Denmark proper, 135 seats are distributed among the constituencies. In order to distribute these constituency seats among the political groups in contention, the total vote of each party in a constituency is divided by 1, 3, 5 and so on by odd numbers in order to arrive at the quotients on the basis of which seats are allocated). Utilization of this method ensures representation for smaller parties.

The 40 remaining, or compensatory, seats are then distributed among the parties which either have won at least one constituency seat; have obtained, in two electoral regions, at least as many votes as the average number of valid votes cast in the region, per constituency seat; or have obtained at least 2% of all valid votes cast in the country as a whole. Such distribution, based on votes obtained on the national scale, is aimed at redressing the imbalance caused through the distribution of the constituency seats.

When it has been decided which parties are entitled to a share of the compensatory seats, the number of seats which each party is proportionately entitled to of the 175 seats is calculated on the basis of the total number of votes cast for these parties in all parts of the country. From the number of seats thus arrived at for each party, the number of constituency seats already obtained by the party is deducted. The resulting figure is the number of compensatory seats due to the party.

The end result of this system is a distribution of seats in the Folketing that faithfully reflects the share of the popular votes received by the parties.

Candidates who have been nominated but not elected figure on a list of substitute members drawn up by the Ministry of Interior after each general election. These substitute members fill the seats which become vacant between general elections.
Voting is not compulsory.
Voter requirements - Age: 18 years
- Danish citizenship
- permanent residence in Denmark
- disqualifications: legally declared incompetency
CANDIDATES
Eligibility Qualified electors
- age: 18 years
- Danish citizenship
Ineligibility: conviction for an act which in the eyes of the public makes the candidate unworthy of being a member of the Folketing.
Incompatibilities (not applicable)
Candidacy requirements - Nomination by party or individuals
- candidatures must be registered at least 11 days prior to polling day
- party lists must be submitted at least 8 days before polling day
- independents need backing of the 150 to 200 electors from their district

LAST ELECTIONS

Parliament name (generic / translated) Folketinget / Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
BACKGROUND
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 15 September 2011
Timing and scope of renewal Elections were held for all the seats in Parliament following the early dissolution of this body in August 2011. General elections had previously been held in November 2007.
On 26 August 2011, Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen called early parliamentary elections for 15 September, ahead of the official end of the parliament's current four-year term in November 2011. At stake were 179 seats in parliament, 175 of which are elected in Denmark, and two each in Greenland and the Faroe Islands, autonomously administered Danish territories in the Arctic Circle and high North Atlantic.

In the previous elections held in November 2007, the Liberal Party (Venstre) of the then Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen - who had been leading the centre-right coalition since 2001 - took 46 seats. Its coalition partners - the Danish People's Party and the Conservative People's Party - took 25 and 18 seats respectively. The main opposition Social Democratic Party came in second with 45 seats and the Socialist People's Party took 23. Following the elections, Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen formed a new centre-right coalition government comprising his Liberal Party, the Danish People's Party and the New Alliance (five seats).

In April 2009, Anders Fogh Rasmussen was elected Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The then Finance Minister, Mr. Lars Lokke Rasmussen, took over both as Prime Minister and head of the Liberal Party.

As a consequence of the global economic crisis that had started in 2008, Denmark experienced its worst economic downturn since World War II. On 24 August 2011, the government presented a US$ 2 billion economic stimulus package and the draft budget for 2012. The package aimed to help Danish banks avoid bankruptcy. The proposed 2012 budget included an 85 billion kroner (US$ 16.4 billion) deficit, the equivalent of 4.6 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), in stark contrast to the 5 per-cent budget surplus in 2007. Shortly after the budget proposal, on 26 August, the Prime Minister announced elections for September, urging citizens to maintain a "secure path" for the country by voting his centre-right government back into power.

The 2011 elections were held against a backdrop of debt crises in several countries in the euro zone. Although Denmark is not part of the euro zone, the debt crisis in that area was a cause for concern.

The centre-right government was challenged once again by the centre-left coalition, comprising the Social Democratic Party, the Social Liberal Party, the Socialist People's Party and the Unity List. Social Democrat leader, Ms. Helle Thorning-Schmidt, was aspiring to become the country's first woman prime minister. In all, 804 candidates contested the elections.

Both coalitions pledged to revive the country's economy. The governing coalition reiterated the need for austerity plans and further spending cuts. Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen called on voters' continuing support for the government proposals which, in his view, would lead to "permanent welfare" instead of "uncontrolled indebtedness". The coalition proposed to cut the early retirement pensions scheme in an effort to balance the country's budget by 2020.

The opposition coalition also promised to balance the budget by 2020. However, it promised more spending on education and infrastructure by raising taxes on banks and high earners and increasing the value-added tax (VAT) on cigarettes and junk food. It also proposed to increase the working hours of all workers by 12 minutes per day, arguing that an extra working hour per week would boost economic growth.

On immigration policy, Ms. Pia Kjaersgaard's Danish People's Party proposed to delocalize asylum centres from Denmark to the major countries or regions of origin of asylum-seekers, such as Pakistan, the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. Ms. Thorning-Schmidt's Social Democratic Party pledged to implement more "humane" immigration policies while continuing most of the measures taken by the incumbent government.

Reacting to the upcoming request by Palestine for full membership of the United Nations, Foreign Minister Lene Espersen of the Conservative People's Party said that Denmark should try to convince Palestinians initially not to seek recognition but rather observer status at the United Nations, as the Vatican had done. The Socialist People's Party Leader, Mr. Villy Sovndal, said that recognition of a Palestinian State was necessary and pledged to canvas support from other countries in the European Union for the recognition of Palestine as an independent State.

On 15 September, 87.71 per cent of the 4 million registered voters turned out at the polls.

Eight parties surpassed the 2 per-cent threshold to win parliamentary representation. Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen's Liberal Party remained the largest party with 47 seats, winning three more seats than the Social Democratic Party. However, the four parties in the opposition coalition took a total of 89 seats, three more than the governing coalition. Prime Minister Rasmussen conceded defeat and tendered the government's resignation.

On 2 October, the Social Democratic Party, the Social Liberal Party and the Socialist People's Party formed a coalition government under the leadership of Social Democrat leader, Ms. Thorning-Schmidt. She became the first woman in Denmark to assume the premiership.

On 4 October, the newly elected parliament held its first session and elected Mr. Mogens Lykketoft of the Social Democratic Party as its new Speaker.
STATISTICS
Voter turnout
Round no 115 September 2011
Number of registered electors
Voters
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
4'080'847
3'579'121 (87.71%)
32'687
3'546'434
Notes
Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political group Candidates Votes % of votes
Liberal Party (Venstre) 948'291 26.74
Social Democratic Party 881'534 24.86
Danish People's Party 436'335 12.30
Social Liberal Party (RV) 336'149 9.48
Socialist People's Party 326'118 9.20
Unity List 236'982 6.68
Liberal Alliance 176'473 4.98
Conservative People's Party 174'563 4.92
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total of seats Constituency seats Compensatory seats
Liberal Party (Venstre) 47 41 6
Social Democratic Party 44 39 5
Danish People's Party 22 17 5
Social Liberal Party (RV) 17 12 5
Socialist People's Party 16 11 5
Unity List 12 7 5
Liberal Alliance 9 5 4
Conservative People's Party 8 3 5
Distribution of seats according to sex
Men

Women

Percent of women
109

70

39.11%
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Comments
Sources:
The Danish Parliament (04.10.2011)
http://www.dst.dk/valg/Valg1204271/valgopgmid/valgopgHL.htm
http://valg.im.dk/English/Parliament-elections.aspx
http://www.expatindenmark.com/infocentre/forexpats/Pages/TheDanishPoliticalSystem.aspx

Note the distribution of seats:
Four other members are elected separately from Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The statistics above exclude the election results for these four members.

Election results for Greenland:
Inuit Ataqatigiits: 1 seat
Forward (Siumut): 1 seat

Election results for the Faroe Islands:
Union Party (Sambandspartiet): 1 seat
Social Democratic Party (Javnaðarflokkurin): 1 seat

Note on the number of women:
In all 70 women (including two from Greenland) were elected.

PRESIDENCY OF THE PARLIAMENTARY CHAMBER

Parliament name (generic / translated) Folketinget / Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
APPOINTMENT AND TERM OF OFFICE
Title President of the Danish Parliament
Term - duration: 1 year at the beginning of every sessional year (October), may be relected; reelected on 1/10/97
- reasons for interruption of the term: resignation, death
Appointment - elected by the Members of the Folketing, at the opening of every session and when the Folketing meets for the first time after a general election
- after the approval of the validity of the general election
Eligibility all Members are eligible, notified by parties
Voting system - vote may be omitted if there is only one candidate and there are no objections to this candidate
- vote by public ballot, usually (may be secret if the Folketing so decides)
- if one of the Members nominated gets more than half of the votes cast, he/she is elected - if not, another free vote is held - if this does not result in the said majority of votes either, a third vote is held - the third vote is confined to the two candidates who received the largest number of votes during the second vote, and lots will be drawn in the event of a parity of votes.
Procedures / results - the most senior Member presides over the Assembly during the voting, at the opening of a sessional year
- the tellers count the votes and notify the Speaker of the result
- the most senior Member announces the results without any delay
- 60 Members can request in writing and with at least 3 days' notice a new election for the Speakership
STATUS
Status - ranks third in the hierarchy of State, after the Head of State and the Leader of the Government
- represents the Assembly with the public authorities
- is ex officio chairman of the Folketing committees
- in the absence of the Speaker, one of the Deputy-Speakers (and in their absence, one of the tellers) can assume his/her role and functions
Board - the Presidium consists of the Speaker and the 4 Deputy Speakers:
- the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) consists 21 Members who are ex officio Members and whose chairman is the Speaker); the other 16 Members are elected on a pro rata basis, every year at Membersthe opening of the session and after a general election
- meets when necessary when convened by the Speaker
- the Speaker has the final say in most matters - in some matters, the SOC must be consulted
Material facilities - special allowance equivalent to that for a Minister (DKK 380 703 per annum)
- right to a pension as a former Speaker
- official residence in the parliamentary building
- official car with a driver
- secretariat
- general administrative services
FUNCTIONS
Organization of parliamentary business - convenes sessions
- establishes and modifies the agenda
- organizes the debates and sets speaking time
- examines the admissibility of bills and amendments
- refers texts to a committee for study - the Folketing can, if it so desires, refers bills to other committees than those recommended by the Speaker (this very rarely occurs)
Chairing of public sittings - can open, adjourn and close sittings
- ensures respect for provisions of the Constitution and Standing Orders
- makes announcements concerning the Assembly
- takes disciplinary measures in the event of disturbance, and lifts such measures
- establishes the list of speakers, gives and withdraws permission to speak
- establishes the order in which amendments are taken up
- calls for a vote, decides how it is to be carried out, verifies the voting procedure and cancels a vote in the event of irregularities
- checks the quorum after the vote
- authenticates the adopted texts and the records of debates
- interprets the rules or other regulations governing the life of the Assembly, according to precedents
Special powers - the Presidium discusses proposals for the Folketing's budget and submits a recommendation to the SOC
- employs and dismisses civil servants and other employees in the administration
- employs and dismisses senior civil servants (including the Clerk) after discussion with the 4 Deputy Speakers and following approval by the SOC
- manages the organization of the internal affairs in consultation with the 4 Deputy Speakers
- is responsible for relations with foreign Parliaments
- is responsible for safety, and in this capacity, can call the police in the event of disturbance in the Chamber
Speaking and voting rights, other functions - can take the floor in legislative debates
- can cut off a debate which goes too far in relation to the bill which is being debated
- takes part in voting
- normally does not propose bills or amendments except in special cases such as bills which concerns parliamentary conditions
- intervenes in the parliamentary oversight procedure
- signs the laws together with one of the tellers and transmits them to the appropriate Ministry

PARLIAMENTARY MANDATE

Parliament name (generic / translated) Folketinget / Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
NATURE
Nature of the mandate · Free representation (S. 56 of the Constitution Act of 05.06.1953)
Start of the mandate · On the election day, when the election has ended. Certain rights only accrue to MPs when their election has been approved and they have made the declaration of adherence to the Constitution Act (S. 32 (7) of the Constitution Act, SO 1 (8) and (9) of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
· Procedure
Validation of mandates · Validation by the Folketing on recommendation of a committee (S. 33 of the Constitution Act, SO 1 (2) to (7), and 7 (1) (2.) of the Standing Orders of the Folketing, S. 86 and 87 of the Parliamentary Election Act)
· Procedure
End of the mandate · On the day of new elections (S. 32 (4) of the Constitution Act; the same applies in case of early dissolution, see S. 32 (2) and (3) of the Constitution Act)
Can MPs resign? Yes · Yes, of their own free will
· Procedure (SO 40 of the Standing Orders of the Folketing, S. 92 of the Parliamentary Election Act)
Can MPs lose their mandate ? Yes Definitive exclusion from Parliament by the latter:
- Loss of mandate for loss of eligibility (S. 29, 30, 32 (6), and 33 of the Constitution Act, and SO 7 (1) (2.) of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
- Invalidation of election after approval by the Folketing (S. 33 of the Constitution Act, SO 1 (5) to (7), and SO 7 (1) (2.) of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
STATUS OF MEMBERS
Rank in hierarchy
Indemnities, facilities and services · Official passport. Certain MPs may apply for diplomatic passports.
· Basic salary (see also S. 58 of the Constitution Act): DKK 586,525 per year (as of 1 Oct. 2009)
+ Cost allowance: in accordance with residence
· Exemption from tax for the cost allowance. The basic salary is not exempted from tax.
· Pension scheme (Law on Election to the Danish Parliament, Lb. no. 271 of 13.05.1987, as amended by the laws no. 744 of 07.12.1988 and no. 245 of 19.04.1989)
· Other facilities:
(a) Secretariat
(b) Assistants
(c) Free housing for the 5 Members of the Presidium in Christiansborg
(d) Postal and telephone services
(e) Travel and transport
(f) Others
Obligation to declare personal assets No
Parliamentary immunity - parliamentary non-accountability · The concept does exist (S. 57 of the Constitution Act).
· Parliamentary non-accountability applies to words spoken and written by MPs both within and outside Parliament, provided that they are pronounced in the exercise of the mandate.
· Derogations: consent of the Folketing; improper statements or offence (SO 29 (2) to (4) of the Standing Orders of the Folketing; see Discipline)
· Non-accountability takes effect on the day when the mandate begins and offers, after the expiry of the mandate, protection against prosecution for opinions expressed during the exercise of the mandate.
Parliamentary immunity - parliamentary inviolability · The concept does exist (S. 57 of the Constitution Act).
· It applies to criminal and civil proceedings, covers all offences with the exception of minor offences (i.e. ticket fines), and protects MPs from arrest, from being held in preventive custody, and from the opening of judicial proceedings against them. It does not protect them from their homes being searched.
· Derogations: in the case of flagrante delicto, the consent of the Folketing is not necessary.
· Parliamentary inviolability does not prevent MPs from being called as witnesses before a judge or tribunal.
· Protection is provided from the start to the end of the mandate and also covers judicial proceedings instituted against MPs before their election.
· Parliamentary immunity (inviolability) can be lifted (S. 57 of the Constitution Act):
- Competent authority: the Folketing
In this case, MPs need not be heard. They do not have means of appeal.
· Parliament cannot subject the prosecution and/or detention to certain conditions.
· Parliament cannot suspend the prosecution and/or detention of one of its members.
· In the event of preventive custody or imprisonment, the MPs concerned cannot be authorised to attend sittings of Parliament.
EXERCISE OF THE MANDATE
Training · There is a training/initiation process on parliamentary practices and procedures for MPs. It consists of introduction lectures and courses.
· It is provided by officials of Parliament.
· Handbooks of parliamentary procedure:
- The Standing Orders of the Folketing
- Guide for Members of Parliament
Participation in the work of the Parliament · It is not compulsory for MPs to be present at plenary sittings, committee meetings, or other meetings (for leave of absence, see S. 41 of the Constitution Act).
· There are no penalties foreseen.
Discipline · The rules governing discipline within Parliament are contained in SO 29 to 31 of the Standing Orders of the Folketing.
· Disciplinary measures foreseen :
- Order to sit down (SO 29 (1) of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
- Call to order (SO 29 (2) and (3) of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
- Order to discontinue the speech (SO 29 (2) and (3) of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
- Declining to call upon the Member to speak again (SO 29 (2) and (3) of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
- Suspension from Parliament (SO 29 (2) and (3) of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
- Adjournment or close of the sitting (SO 29 (4), and 30 of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
- Closure of the debate (SO 31 of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
· Specific cases:
- Improper statements or offence (SO 29 (2) to (4) of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
· Competent body to judge such cases/to apply penalties:
- Order to sit down, call to order, order to discontinue the speech, declining to call upon the Member to speak again, adjournment or close of the sitting, improper statements or offence: the President
- Suspension from Parliament: the Standing Orders Committee
- Closure of the debate: the Folketing
· Procedure:
- Order to sit down (SO 29 (1) of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
- Call to order, order to discontinue the speech, declining to call upon the Member to speak again, suspension from Parliament (SO 29 (2) and (3) of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
- Adjournment or close of the sitting (SO 29 (4), and 30 of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
- Closure of the debate (SO 31 of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
- Improper statements or offence (SO 29 (2) to (4) of the Standing Orders of the Folketing)
Code (rules) of conduct · This concept does not exist in the country's juridical system.
Relations between MPs and pressure group · There are no legal provisions in this field.

This page was last updated on 5 December 2012
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