Two-time Danish PM Rasmussen seals government comeback as foreign minister

AFP/The Local
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Two-time Danish PM Rasmussen seals government comeback as foreign minister
Lars Løkke Rasmussen (centre) with the four other new ministers from the Moderate party. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark's former prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen completed a remarkable political journey when he was named foreign minister on Thursday in Social Democrat Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen's new left-right government.


Rasmussen, who served as prime minister from 2009-2011 and again in 2015-2019, quit the right-wing Liberal party amid an internal conflict after the 2019 election defeat and started his own centre-right party, the Moderates.

His Moderates are in Frederiksen's new government along with the Liberals, following last month's general election.

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.


But Rasmussen first touted a centrist collaboration between the two parties as far back as the eve of the 2019 election, when he made the surprise move of calling for the coalition at a time when it was beyond the realms of political likelihood.

Considered one of the master strategists in Danish politics, the two-time prime minister has, in the three-and-a-half years since that election, been ousted from his legacy party, founded a new one, led it to a vote share of 9.3 percent in its first election and returned to government as foreign minister under Frederiksen, his erstwhile rival, and alongside his successor as Liberal leader, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen.

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.

READ ALSO: Party leaders take foreign and defence minister posts in new Danish government


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