Danish Social Liberal Party
Last updated on 19 November 2017
The Danish Social Liberal Party (Danish: Radikale Venstre, "Radical Left", i.e. "Radical Liberal Party") is a social-liberal political party in Denmark. The party is a member of Liberal International and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).
The party was founded in 1905 as a split from the liberal Venstre Reform Party. The initial impetus was the expulsion of Venstre's antimilitarist wing from the party in January 1905. The expelled members held a founding conference for the new party in Odense, on 21 May 1905. In addition to the differences over military spending, the social liberals also took a more positive view than Venstre towards measures that aimed to reduce social inequality. The party also became the political leg of the cultural radical movement. The party was cautiously open to aspects of the welfare state, and also advocated reforms to improve the position of smallholders, an important early group of supporters. The party's social-liberal ideals are said to have been inspired by the political economists Henry George and John Stuart Mill.
The literal translation "radical left" refers to its origin as the historically radical wing of its parent party Venstre ("left") In a modern context, this literal translation is somewhat misleading, as the party is in fact the at the very centre of the Danish political spectrum. The use of the word for "left" in the name of the party (as with Venstre and the Norwegian party Venstre) is meant to refer to liberalism and not left-wing politics. Venstre originally was to the left of the conservative and aristocratic right-wing party Højre, which means "right".
The party president is Klaus Frandsen and it has eight members in the Folketing. The party's political leader is Morten Østergaard.
The party performed well at the 2005 elections. It came out with 9.2% of the popular vote and 17 seats in Parliament, a gain of eight seats. In the 2007 elections, the party share of the popular vote fell to 5.1% and it lost 8 seats, leaving it a total of 9. In the subsequent 2011 elections, the party support rose to 9.5%, and it regained 8 seats to resume a total of 17.
Around 2005 the party was inspired by Richard Florida's book The Rise of the Creative Class. The party also released their own book/political program called "Det kreative Danmark" (The Creative Denmark).
Current issues high on the agenda for the party are:
- Strong opposition to the tight immigration policies of the former Liberal-Conservative government, particularly the 24 year rule (a measure that prevents foreign spouses of Danish citizens from gaining residence permits if either is under the age of 24, to avoid forced marriages).
- Opposition to the educational policies of the former Liberal-Conservative government, which according to the party stresses centralisation, nationalised testing and old-fashioned educational ideas over creativeness, freedom in teaching methods and personal development of pupils.
- A major tax reform, which should simplify the tax system in such a way that income taxes will be reduced in favour of more environmental taxes, less tax deductions and higher taxes on real estate. The point of this is to make working more attractive and the hiring of service workers more attractive. This implies that the party is also opposed to the Liberal-Conservative government's "tax freeze" (skattestop) which prohibits any tax increases, but also changes of the taxation pattern.
In 2007 some prominent members of the party criticised the strategy as being too left-leaning and depending too much on the Social Democrats.
On 7 May 2007, MP Naser Khader and MEP Anders Samuelsen announced that they had left the party to found the economic liberal New Alliance, later renamed the Liberal Alliance, party along with Conservative MEP Gitte Seeberg.
During the following debate the party first distanced itself from the Social Democrats, but after being criticised internally for that too, returned to an oppositional role.
On 6 January 2009 MP Simon Emil Ammitzbøll also left the party and founded a new party called Borgerligt Centrum (Civic Centre), again as a centre-right alternative. In June 2009 he left the Borgerligt Centrum and joined Liberal Alliance.
At a press release on 15 June 2007, it was announced that MP Margrethe Vestager would take over the leadership of the party after Marianne Jelved, and that the party would rethink its strategy and will now consider forming a coalition government with either the left or right side of parliament.
Vestager clarified during the run-up to the 2007 election that her party would only be supporting a government led by the Social Democrats. In the 2007 parliamentary elections, it received 5.1% of the vote, and 9 out of 179 seats.
In the 2011 parliamentary election, in which it ran as part of the "Red Bloc" with the Social Democrats, Socialist People's Party, and Red-Green Alliance, it received 9.5% of the votes and went from 9 to 17 seats, almost doubling its share of votes and of seats in the Folketing.
The party joined the new centre-left government led by incoming Prime Minister and Social Democrat leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt following the 2011 elections.
Relationships to other parties
The Danish Social Liberal Party has traditionally kept itself in the centre of the political scale. Since the early nineties, though, it has primarily cooperated with the Social Democrats.
- Carl Theodor Zahle, Prime Minister 1909–1910 and 1913–1920, (Minister of Justice 1929–1935)
- Erik Scavenius, Prime Minister 1942–1945 (de facto until 29 August 1943), (Foreign Minister 1909–1910, 1913–1920 and 1940–1943 de facto/-1945 de jure )
- Hilmar Baunsgaard, Prime Minister 1968–1971, Trade Minister 1961–1964
- Edvard Brandes, Finance Minister 1909–1910 and 1913–1920
- Christopher Krabbe, Defence Minister 1909–1910
- P. Munch, Minister of the Interior 1909–1910, Defence Minister 1913–1920, Foreign Minister 1929–1940
- Poul Christensen, Agriculture Minister 1909–1910
- Ove Rode, Minister of the Interior 1913–1920
- J. Hassing-Jørgensen, Minister for Public Works 1913–1920
- Kristjan Pedersen, Agriculture Minister 1913–1920
- Bertel Dahlgaard, Minister of the Interior 1929–1940, Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister for Nordic Co-operation 1957–1960
- Jørgen Jørgensen, Education Minister 1935–1940, 1942–1942, 1957–1960, Minister of the Interior 1942–1943
- A. M. Hansen, Education Minister 1945-1945
- Kjeld Philip, Trade Minister 1957–1960, Finance Minister 1960–1961, Minister for Economic Affairs 1961–1962
- Karl Skytte, Agriculture Minister 1957–1964
- A. C. Normann, Fishery Minister 1960–1964, Fishery Minister and Minister for Greenland 1968–1971
- Helge Larsen, Education Minister 1968–1971
- Lauge Dahlgaard, Labour Minister 1968–1971
- Jens Bilgrav-Nielsen, Energy Minister 1988–1990
- Kristen Helveg Petersen, Education Minister 1961–1964, Minister of Culture 1968–1971
- Niels Helveg Petersen, Minister for Economic Affairs 1988–1990, Foreign Minister 1993–2000
- Ole Vig Jensen, Minister of Culture 1988–1990, Education Minister, 1993–1998, Church Minister, 1996–1998
- Lone Dybkjær, Minister for the Environment 1988–1990
- Aase Olesen, Social Minister 1988–1990
- Ebbe Lundgaard, Minister of Culture 1996–1998
- Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen, Minister of Culture 1998–2001
- Marianne Jelved, Minister for Economic Affairs 1993–2001, Minister for Nordic Co-operation 1994–2001, Minister for Culture 2012–2015
- Margrethe Vestager, Education Minister 1998–2001, Church Minister 1998–2000, Minister for Economic and Interior Affairs 2011–2014
- Anita Bay Bundegaard, Minister for Development Cooperation 2000–2001
- Johannes Lebech, Church Minister 2000–2001
- Christian Friis Bach, Minister for Development Cooperation 2011–2013
- Uffe Elbæk, Minister of Culture 2011–2012
- Morten Østergaard, Minister for Research, Innovation and Higher Education 2011–2014, Minister for Taxation 2014–2014 Minister for Economic and Interior Affairs 2014-2015
- Martin Lidegaard, Minister for Climate and Energy 2011–2014, Minister for Foreign Affairs 2014–2015
- Manu Sareen, Minister for Equality, Church and Nordic Cooperation 2011–2014, Minister for Integration and Social Affairs 2014–2015
- Rasmus Helveg Petersen, Minister for Development Cooperation 2013–2014, Minister for Climate and Energy 2014–2015
- Sofie Carsten Nielsen, Minister for Research, Innovation and Higher Education 2014–2015
Unofficial political leaders
Identical with parliamentary group leaders in the Folketing except when the party was in government, and in certain periods there were forms of co-leadership. The time periods are disputable but they may be argued to be as presented here:
- 1905–1928, Carl Theodor Zahle
- 1928–1940, Peter Rochegune Munch
- 1940–1960, Jørgen Jørgensen
- 1960–1968, Karl Skytte
- 1968–1975, Hilmar Baunsgaard
- 1975–1978, Svend Haugaard
- 1978–1990, Niels Helveg Petersen
- 1990–2007, Marianne Jelved
- 2007–2014, Margrethe Vestager
- 2014–, Morten Østergaard
- 1905–1927, Edvard Brandes
- 1905–1927, Ove Rode
- 1905–1928, Peter Rochegune Munch
- 1940–1945, Peter Rochegune Munch
- 1940–1961, Bertel Dahlgaard
- 1960–1961, Jørgen Jørgensen
- 1960–1961, Kjeld Philip
- 1966–1968, Hilmar Baunsgaard
- 1975–1976, Hilmar Baunsgaard
- 1977–1978, Niels Helveg Petersen
Parliamentary group leaders
Parliamentary group leaders in the Folketing:
- 1905–1909, Carl Theodor Zahle
- 1909–1910, Ove Rode
- 1910–1913, Carl Theodor Zahle
- 1913–1916, Thorvald Povlsen
- 1916–1920, Carl Slengerik
- 1920–1928, Carl Theodor Zahle
- 1928–1929, Peter Rochegune Munch
- 1929–1934, Niels Frederiksen
- 1934–1935, Jørgen Jørgensen
- 1935–1945, Axel Marius Hansen
- 1945–1957, Jørgen Jørgensen
- 1957–1961, Aage Fogh
- 1962–1964, Jacob Kierkegaard
- 1964–1968, Karl Skytte
- 1968–1970, Bernhard Baunsgaard
- 1970–1971, Svend Haugaard
- 1971–1975, Hilmar Baunsgaard
- 1975–1978, Svend Haugaard
- 1978–1988, Niels Helveg Petersen
- 1988–1993, Marianne Jelved
- 1993–1994, Jens Bilgrav-Nielsen
- 1994–2000, Jørgen Estrup
- 2000–2001, Elisabeth Arnold
- 2001–2007, Marianne Jelved
- 2007–2011, Margrethe Vestager
- 2011–2012, Marianne Jelved
- 2012-2014, Sofie Carsten Nielsen
- 2014-2014, Christian Friis Bach
- 2014-2015, Camilla Hersom
- 2015-, Morten Østergaard
- 1905–1915, Jørgen Hald
- 1915–1920, Kristen Tovborg Jensen
- 1920–1922, Anders Larsen
- 1922–1924, Erik Scavenius
- 1924–1929, Niels Peter Andreasen
- 1929–1936, Martin Sørensen
- 1936–1937, N. C. Andersen
- 1937–1960, Hans Jeppesen
- 1960–1964, Helge Pedersen
- 1964–1971, Søren Bjerregaard
- 1971–1974, Asger Baunsbak-Jensen
- 1974–1976, Gunnar Skov Andersen
- 1976–1978, Kresten Helveg Petersen
- 1978–1991, Thorkild Møller
- 1991–1993, Grethe Erichsen
- 1993–1997, Margrethe Vestager
- 1997–2000, Johannes Lebech
- 2000–2001, Lone Loklindt (acting)
- 2001–2009, Søren Bald
- 2009–2015, Klaus Frandsen
- 2015-, Svend Thorhauge
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