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Former Danish prime minister Schlüter dies aged 92

Poul Schlüter, the Conservative Prime Minister of Denmark from 1982-1993, has died at the age of 92.

Former Danish prime minister Schlüter dies aged 92
Former Danish prime minister Poul Schlüter, who passed away on Friday, photographed in 2019. Photo: Søren Bidstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Schlüter’s family announced his passing via the Conservative Party on Friday.

Government leader for 11 years in the 1980s and 1990s, Schlüter was the longest serving prime minister since World War Two and the only Conservative party PM in the 20th century.

“His family have lost a dear member and our country has lost one of the most important people of our time,” current Conservative leader Søren Pape Poulsen said in a statement.

“It is with sorrow that I bring the message from Poul Schlüter’s wife and family that former Prime Minister Poul Schlüter has died,” Poulsen said.

Schlüter took over as Conservative leader in 1974 and strengthened the party’s position over a number of years in opposition to Anker Jorgensen’s Social Democrats.

He was known for skillfully managing the press and a result-based approach to politics. Under the motto Borgerlige stemmer, der arbejder — loosely, ‘Conservative votes at work’ — he made his party the largest on Denmark’s right wing.

Under a four-party conservative coalition, he introduced a series of economic cuts after taking over as government leader from Jorgensen in 1982.

Poul Schlüter (with flowers) after forming a new Danish government in 1982. Photo: Mogens Ladegaard/Ritzau Scanpix

That line was generally credited as being a successful one for the country. At a 1986 party congress, Schlüter famously said things were going “incredibly well”.

A state deficit of 80 billion kroner was turned into a surplus during his earlier years in office and unemployment was significantly reduced.

The Conservative prime minister stepped down in 1993 over a scandal related to his justice ministry’s order to stop processing family reunification claims from Tamil refugees.

Another former Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, paid tribute to Schlüter on Friday.

Rasmussen was appointed tax minister by Schlüter in 1987 before he went on to lead the Liberal party and later the government.

“Poul Schlüter is one of the most important and influential people in modern Danish history. And his down to earth and widely appealing personality will be remembered with great respect by all of Denmark,” Rasmussen said.

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POLITICS

Denmark’s Social Democrats in worst opinion poll since 2015

Amid criticism over the government’s plan to abolish the Great Prayer Day holiday, Denmark’s biggest party the Social Democrats has received its worst opinion poll result for eight years.

Denmark’s Social Democrats in worst opinion poll since 2015

The poll, publish on Monday by institute Voxmeter on behalf of news wire Ritzau, places the Social Democrats on 22.8 points. That is some 4.7 points less than the party’s vote share at the election on November 1st.

The Social Democrats took 50 of parliament’s 179 seats at the election, making them comfortably the largest party in parliament. That number would be cut to 40 seats with Monday’s poll numbers.

The opinion poll result is meanwhile the lowest the party has had since January 2015, when it was in government under former leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

The poll carries a statistic uncertainty level of 2.6 percent.

The two other parties in the coalition government, the centrist Moderates and centre-right Liberal (Venstre) party, also suffer in the poll but to a lesser degree.

The Liberals have 11.5 percent or 20 seats according to the poll, with the Moderates at 8 percent or 14 seats.

The three parties have a combined 89 seats in parliament, but the poll would reduce them to 74 seats and mean they would no longer have the basis for a majority government.

A key challenge for the government currently is its unpopular plan to abolish the Great Prayer Day (Store Bededag) public holiday, in a move it says will enable increased spending in defence to meet Nato targets ahead of the current schedule.

The policy has met with criticism from trade unionsthe church and opposition parties, while the military itself has also distanced itself from the plan.

READ ALSO: Danish economists say abolition of Great Prayer Day is ‘not necessary’

As of Monday, a petition against scrapping the holiday had been signed just under 450,000 times.

A demonstration against the government’s bill to abolish the holiday is planned to take place next Sunday in Copenhagen.

While the government has seen poll numbers suffer, opposition parties have made headway.

The centre-left Socialist People’s Party (SF) is now at 13.5 percent after going into opposition after the election. That makes SF the second-largest party in Denmark according to the poll.

Libertarian party Liberal Alliance moves up to 10.6 percent, almost 3 points more than its election result.

The far-right Nye Borgerlige party falls to 2.5 percent following an internal power struggle.

The poll is based on responses from 1004 representative voters aged 18 or over.

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