Denmark’s ex-PM Rasmussen named foreign minister

Copenhagen, Denmark/AFP

Denmark’s former prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen was on Thursday named foreign minister in Social Democrat Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s new left-right government following a general election last month.

Rasmussen, who served as prime minister from 2009-2011 and again in 2015-2019, quit the right-wing Liberal party to start his own centre-right party, the Moderates.

His Moderates are in Frederiksen’s new government along with a third party, the Liberals.

The alliance between the left-wing Social Democrats and right-wing Liberals is unusual in Denmark, with the last attempt in 1978-1979 lasting just 14 months.

Liberal leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, who had campaigned against Frederiksen in the hope of building a right-wing majority, ultimately agreed to form a government with her “in Denmark’s best interest”.

He becomes deputy prime minister and defence minister.

Frederiksen’s second term as prime minister looks set to be very different from her first, which ran from 2019-2022, when she led a minority Social Democratic government that relied on support from her traditional left-wing allies.

That left-wing bloc won an absolute majority in the November election, but Frederiksen chose nonetheless to form a left-right government.

She said the current global political context, with the war in Ukraine and economic crisis, justified the move — but convincing the Liberals to ally themselves with her is also sure to create a split on the right wing.

Frederiksen failed however to convince the centre-left Social Liberal party to join the government, though it had been open to the possibility.

The new cabinet, made up of 15 men and eight women, includes 11 Social Democrats, eight Liberals and five Moderates.

The finance ministry will remain in the hands of Nicolai Wammen, a Social Democrat.

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