Both Helle Thorning-Schmidt and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was in Denmark on Tuesday, have been mentioned for the post. Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Scanpix
After narrowly missing out on being named president of the European Council and with a domestic election still to run, new rumours are circulating about Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s political future.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon’s tenure expires on December 31, 2016 and talk about his successor is already underway. The position of UN chief has never been held by a woman and two campaigns are hoping to change that by pushing for a female candidate. Among those being championed is the Danish PM.
The Campaign to Elect a Woman UN Secretary-General wants to end 70 years of male dominance in the post and presents Thorning-Schmidt as one of its ‘outstanding women’.
“Decisive leadership and progressive social and economic reform have marked Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s impressive career in public service,” the campaign reads.
Joining Thorning-Schmidt as the campaign’s proposed candidates are 20 other female leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstöm, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.
Last week, the international organization Equality Now launched its own campaign to push for a female secretary general. The Equality Now campaign doesn’t explicity list Thorning-Schmidt and instead focuses on female UN ambassadors from the rive permament member countries of the UN Security Council – the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France and Russia.
Ole Weaver, a professor of international politics at the University of Copenhagen, said he thinks Thorning-Schmidt will receive serious consideration for the highly influential post.
“When you look at the criteria that will be used to select the next secretary general of the UN, there is nothing to rule Helle Thorning out,” Weaver told Ekstra Bladet.
“A significant factor will always be what the US thinks. They were comfortable with Ban Ki-moon, who didn’t bother them too much. It is not likely that someone who is too critical of the US will be chosen. At the same time, you can’t appear to be a lapdog. Denmark is closest to the latter, but not to the degree that it would be a problem,” he added.
According to Weaver, other key factors could work in Thorning-Schmidt’s favour.
“Our climate profile could be beneficial. Many would like to see climate issues move up the agenda and we have a good reputation there. Beyond that, in the Nordics we have a tradition for consistently supporting the UN. Sweden and Norway have previously provided general secretaries whereas Denmark is a Nordic country that hasn’t yet been used,” he told Ekstra Bladet.
Thorning-Schmidt’s camp had no comment on the rumours.
The Danish PM spent Tuesday with another potential female secretary general, when she played host to Merkel in Copenhagen.