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Det Radikale Venstre


Det Radikale Venstre

Danish Social Liberal Party
Radikale Venstre
Leader Margrethe Vestager
Chairman Klaus Frandsen
Founded 21 May 1905
Headquarters Christiansborg
1240 København K
Newspaper Radikal Politik
Youth wing Radikal Ungdom
Ideology Social liberalism[1][2]
Political position Centre[3] to Centre-left[4][5]
International affiliation Liberal International
European affiliation Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party
European Parliament group no MEPs
Colours Magenta, blue
European Parliament
Election symbol
Politics of Denmark
Political parties

The Danish Social Liberal Party (Danish: Det Radikale Venstre, literally: "The Radical Left", occasionally translated to English as "Radical Liberal Party") is a social liberal[1][2][9][10][11] political party in Denmark. The party is a member of Liberal International and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party.


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 May 21, 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 was cautiously open to aspects of the welfare state, and also advocated reforms to improve the position of tenant farmers, an important early group of supporters.[12][13]

The literal translation radical left is nowadays somewhat misleading, as the party is traditionally described as being in the centre of the left-right political scale. The use of the word for "left" in the name of the former mother party 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.

Electoral record

The party president is Klaus Frandsen and it has seventeen members of parliament . By far the most prominent member, however, is political leader and spokesperson Margrethe Vestager.

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.

Internal conflicts

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,[14] 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.[15]

2007 elections

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.[16]

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.

2011 elections

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 lead 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. During the 2007 election, the possibility of cooperating with Anders Fogh Rasmussen's Liberal-Conservative government, though, became a source of debate within the party, but was rejected by the parliamentary group leader Margrethe Vestager.[source?]

Up to the 2011 elections, the party participated in a number of reforms of fiscal policy and pensions with Lars Løkke Rasmussen's right-wing cabinet. These reforms included cuts and austerity measures and went against the general policy proposed by the rest of the opposition which consisted of social-democratic and socialist parties, but Vestager's party nevertheless maintained support for the Social Democratic candidate for Prime Minister, while making clear that they would seek to cooperate across the middle also after the election.

Prominent members

Prime Ministers

  • Carl Theodor Zahle, Prime Minister 1909–1910 and 1913–1920, (Minister of Justice 1929–1935)
  • Erik Scavenius, Prime Minister 1942–1945 (In reality only until 29 August 1943), (Foreign Minister 1909–1910, 1913–1920 and 1940–1945 (1943) )
  • Hilmar Baunsgaard, Prime Minister 1968–1971, Trade Minister 1961–1964

Other Ministers

  • 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
  • Marianne Jelved, Minister for Economic Affairs 1993–2001 and Minister for Nordic Co-operation 1994–2001
  • Ebbe Lundgaard, Minister of Culture 1996–1998
  • Margrethe Vestager, Education Minister 1998–2001, Church Minister 1998–2000
  • Johannes Lebech, Church Minister 2000–2001
  • Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen, Minister of Culture 1998–2001
  • Anita Bay Bundegaard, Development Minister 2000–2001

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:



Parliamentary group leaders

Parliamentary group leaders in the Folketing:


Party chairmen

  • 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–, Klaus Frandsen

Election results

Parliament (Folketing)

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of
Danish vote
# of
overall seats won
# of
Danish seats won
+/– Government
1984 184,642 5.5 (#6) Increase 1 in opposition
1987 209,086 6.2 (#5) Increase 1 in opposition
1988 185,707 5.6 (#6) Decrease 1 in coalition
1990 114,888 3.5 (#7) Decrease 3 in opposition
1994 152,701 4.6 (#6) Increase 1 in coalition
1998 131,254 3.9 (#7) Decrease 1 in coalition
2001 179,023 5.2 (#6) Increase 2 in opposition
2005 308,212 9.2 (#5) Increase 8 in opposition
2007 177,161 5.1 (#6) Decrease 8 in opposition
2011 336,698 9.5 (#4) Increase 8 in coalition

European Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of
Danish vote
# of
overall seats won
# of
Danish seats won
1989 50,196 2.8 (#8)
1994 176,480 8.5 (#6) Increase 1
1999 180,089 9.1 (#4) Steady 0
2004 120,473 6.4 (#6) Steady 0
2009 100,094 4.3 (#7) Decrease 1

See also


External links

  • Det Radikale Venstre official site
  • official open community site
  • English summary
  • Web site of the party's youth organisation (mainly in Danish)

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