Lars Løkke Rasmussen

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Lars Løkke Rasmussen
Danmarks statsminister Lars Loekke Rasmussen pa Nordiskt globaliseringsforum 2010.jpg
Leader of the Opposition
Incumbent
Assumed office
3 October 2011
Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Preceded by Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Leader of Venstre
Incumbent
Assumed office
17 May 2009
Preceded by Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Prime Minister of Denmark
In office
5 April 2009 – 3 October 2011
Monarch Margrethe II
Deputy Lars Barfoed
Preceded by Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Succeeded by Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Minister of Finance
In office
23 November 2007 – 7 April 2009
Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Preceded by Thor Pedersen
Succeeded by Claus Hjort Frederiksen
Minister of the Interior and Health
In office
27 November 2001 – 23 November 2007
Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Preceded by Karen Jespersen (Interior)
Arne Rolighed (Health)
Succeeded by Karen Jespersen (Social Welfare)
Jakob Axel Nielsen (Health and Prevention)
Personal details
Born (1964-05-15) 15 May 1964 (age 50)
Vejle, Denmark
Political party Venstre
Spouse(s) Sólrun Jákupsdóttir
Children 3
Alma mater University of Copenhagen
Religion Church of Denmark
Website Official website

Lars Løkke Rasmussen (Danish: [lɑːs ˈløɡ̊ə]; 15 May 1964) is a Danish politician who served as Prime Minister of Denmark from April 2009 to October 2011. He is the leader of the centre-right liberal party, Venstre.

Rasmussen has been a member of the Danish parliament (Folketinget) since 21 September 1994. He also served as County Mayor of Frederiksborg County from 1998 to 2001. Subsequently he was the Interior and Health Minister from 27 November 2001 to 23 November 2007 as part of Anders Fogh Rasmussen's first and second Cabinets, and then Minister of Finance from 23 November 2007 to April 2009 as part of Anders Fogh Rasmussen's third Cabinet. On 5 April 2009, he succeeded Anders Fogh Rasmussen as Prime Minister following the latter's appointment as Secretary General of NATO.

In the September 2011 parliamentary election, the government lost its parliamentary majority, and on 16 September 2011, Rasmussen tendered the government's resignation to Queen Margrethe. He remained in office as head of a caretaker government until his successor, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, was appointed on 3 October 2011.

Early life[edit]

Lars Løkke Rasmussen was born in Vejle to Jeppe Rasmussen and Lise Løkke Rasmussen (née Løkke). His last name is Rasmussen, while Løkke, his mother's maiden name, is his middle name. Unless his full name is used, he is correctly referred to only by the name of Rasmussen, but his middle name is used frequently by the media to distinguish him from his two predecessors who shared the same last name.

He graduated from high school in 1983, and was the president of the youth branch of Venstre from 1986 to 1989. He graduated with a law degree (cand. jur) from the University of Copenhagen in 1992. From 1990 to 1995 he worked as a self-employed consultant.

Lars Løkke Rasmussen is married to Sólrun Løkke Rasmussen. Together they have three children.[1]

Lars Løkke Rasmussen is not related to his two immediate predecessors as Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen or Poul Nyrup Rasmussen.[2]

Political career[edit]

Venstres Ungdom chairmanship and Afghanistan mission[edit]

Lars Løkke Rasmussen served as chairman of the youth branch of Venstre from 1986 to 1989. One of his initiatives was to establish an alternative to Operation Dagsværk — an annual one day fundraising campaign by high school students collecting money to third world countries — since Operation Dagsværk at the time was spearheaded by members of the Danish Communist Youth.[3] Løkke's campaign was supported by the party youth branch, and raised 600,000 DKK which were spent on school equipment[3] in Soviet occupied Afghanistan. Lars Løkke Rasmussen led a Danish delegation to Afghanistan delivering the collected funds, and a photograph taken by photographer Jørn Stjerneklar shows him and two other delegation members disguised as Afghans. Another photo shows him holding an AK47, while standing together with three Mujahideen.[4] The photos have generated a lot of media attention in Denmark, after the Danish participation in the war in Afghanistan and especially as Rasmussen moved up the rankings at Venstre.

County Mayor and deputy chairman of Venstre[edit]

Rasmussen was elected deputy chairman of Venstre in 1998, at the same time as Anders Fogh Rasmussen assumed the position as party leader after Uffe Ellemann-Jensen. In 1998, he was elected as county mayor of Frederiksborg County, a position he occupied until 2001, when he joined the first Fogh Rasmussen cabinet.

Minister of the Interior and Health[edit]

Lars Løkke Rasmussen served as Interior and Health Minister between 2001 and 2007 until he was appointed Minister of Finance in 2007. He was responsible for negotiating a 2002 agreement between Venstre, the Conservatives, the Social Democrats and the Danish People's Party giving patients in public hospitals the right to select a private hospital, provided that the public hospital had been unable to treat the patient within two months. In 2007, this time limit was lowered to one month. Since 2002, the government has awarded extra funds earmarked at reducing the waiting list at National Health Service hospitals, a grant sometimes referred to by the media as Løkkeposen[5] (A pun on 'lykkepose' the Danish word for a goodie bag). He also represented the government during negotiations regarding a reform of the system by which richer municipalities transfer part of their tax incomes to poorer municipalities.

Municipal reform of 2007[edit]

As Minister of the Interior and Health, Lars Løkke Rasmussen spearheaded the municipal reform that reduced Denmark's 271 municipalities to 98, and abolished the 14 counties and replaced them with five regions.[6]

Accusations of financial irregularities[edit]

In the spring of 2008, Lars Løkke Rasmussen was accused by the media of having charged his official accounts with considerable expenses (ca. 800.000 Danish Kroner) he should have paid himself, e.g. restaurants, cigarettes, taxis, and hotels, both as county mayor and as minister.[7][8] In May 2007, Løkke was accused of having his ministry pay for a hotel room in Copenhagen when he privately attended a Paul McCartney concert in Horsens in 2004.[9][10][11]

Minister of Finance[edit]

After then Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen won his second reelection in 2007 he created his third cabinet in which Løkke Rasmussen was appointed Minister of Finance. This was seen as a clear indicator that Løkke was next in line to follow Fogh as leader of Venstre and Prime Minister, when Fogh would leave Danish politics.[12] As Finance Minister Løkke Rasmussen led the negotiations concerning funds to banks hit by the global financial crisis.

Tax reform of 2009[edit]

In February 2009, Lars Løkke Rasmussen was the chief negotiator in the political agreement behind a major tax reform, implementing the government's ambition of reducing income tax and increasing taxes on pollution.[13] The reform was, according to Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the biggest reduction of the marginal tax rate since the introduction of the income tax in 1903.[14] The opposition accused it of being historically skewed in favouring those with high-income jobs and giving very little to those with low-income jobs.[14]

Prime Minister of Denmark[edit]

Rasmussen outside Amalienborg Palace immediately after his appointment as Prime Minister by Queen Margrethe.

On 4 April 2009, NATO decided that Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen would replace Jaap de Hoop Scheffer as Secretary General of NATO.[15] On the same day, Anders Fogh Rasmussen declared that he would resign as Prime Minister on 5 April 2009. As deputy of the largest party in the government, Lars Løkke Rasmussen thus took over the post as Prime Minister of Denmark.[16] An opinion poll released on the day of Lars Løkke Rasmussen's takeover of the post of Prime Minister revealed that Danes believe that he only beats Helle Thorning-Schmidt as the person best suited for bringing Denmark through the financial crisis, and that Thorning-Schmidt would be better suited to combatting unemployment, reducing hospital waiting lists, securing the welfare society of the future, and representing Denmark internationally.[17] On 7 April 2009, Lars Løkke Rasmussen announced the new set of ministers in his Cabinet.[18]

COP15 - December 2009[edit]

Lars Løkke Rasmussen has been sharply criticized from many sides for his handling of the COP15 leadership.

At the first meeting of the summit high level section, led by Lars Løkke Rasmussen, a number of countries protested the Danish handling of the negotiations. ”We cannot continue to talk about procedure, procedure, procedure. We must move forward. The World awaits us”, said Lars Løkke Rasmussen responding to criticism of the Danish led negotiations coming from several countries who regarded them as undemocratic.[19]

Many developing countries viewed this statement as arrogant. Procedure is a major element in UN negotiations.[20] ”This is not about procedure. This is about content. We have stated that the results in Copenhagen must come in two texts. One cannot simply present a text pulled from the clouds”, replied the Chinese delegate in the auditorium.[19]

Stanislaus Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator for the Developing Nations' organisation G77, cross examined what exactly Løkke Rasmussen meant when stating that the chairmen of the negotiating groups should be "people whom we trust".[20] Criticism of the Office of the Prime Minister was supported by China, India and Brazil. The last had been regarded as an ally by the Danish delegation.[20]

The international press, too, has been severe in its criticism of the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister's Office. The BBC's climate correspondent stated: "According to all my sources, the Prime Minister's Office is on the verge of a melt-down. They have no modus operandi, or the diplomatic experience needed to plan one in advance. Ed Miliband, the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, was quoted for stating that "Denmark is doing a reasonable job".[20]

Budget cuts[edit]

Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Russian President Dmitrij Medvedev in the Prime Minister's office at Christiansborg in Copenhagen, Denmark, 28 April 2010.

In May 2010 Rasmussen's government announced major spending cuts and measures designed to increase revenues, notably to unemployment insurance (cut from a maximum of four years to two), foreign aid (cut from 0.83% of GDP to 0.76%), cuts to child support payments, and miscellaneous tax reforms designed to increase revenues.[21] The cuts were designed to save the government 24 billion DKK.

2011 election[edit]

Løkke Rasmussen led Venstre in the September 2011 parliamentary election. He sought to renew the mandate of the rightwing coalition that has been in power since 2001. Although his party gained a seat, the opposition parties combined obtained more seats than the parties supporting the incumbent government. On 16 September 2011, Rasmussen tendered the government's resignation to Queen Margrethe. He remained in office as head of a caretaker government until his successor, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, was appointed on 3 October 2011.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ According to Statistics Denmark, Rasmussen is the ninth-most common last name in Denmark: http://www.dst.dk/Statistik/Navne/pop/2009.aspx
  3. ^ a b "I Afghanistan med Lars Løkke Rasmussen" (in Danish). Politiken. 2009-02-25. Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  4. ^ "Da mujahedinerne var helte" (in Danish). Information. 2008-11-22. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  5. ^ "Løkkeposen på vej ud på sygehusene" (in Danish). BT. 2006-11-16. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  6. ^ "Regeringens populistiske narreværk" (in Danish). Politiken. 2009-03-24. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  7. ^ "Amtsrådspolitikere vil undersøge Løkkes bilagsrod" (in Danish). Politiken. 2003-05-23. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  8. ^ "Lars Løkke på flere hotelbesøg" (in Danish). Politiken. 2003-05-22. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  9. ^ "Løkke tog på betalt hotel efter koncert" (in Danish). Politiken. 2009-05-20. 
  10. ^ "Ministerium fik hotelregning efter koncert" (in Danish). DR. 2008-05-20. 
  11. ^ "Løkke på hotel efter rockkoncert" (in Danish). TV 2. 2008-05-20. 
  12. ^ "Arvefølgen i Venstre på plads" (in Danish). Berlingske Tidende. 2007-11-23. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  13. ^ "Nu er skattereformen på plads" (in Danish). Politiken. 2009-03-01. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  14. ^ a b "Direktøren får 53.409 kr. – hjemmehjælper 2.779 kr." (in Danish). Jyllands-Posten. 2009-03-01. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  15. ^ "Fogh bliver ny Nato-chef" (in Danish). Politiken. 2009-04-04. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  16. ^ "Løkke tager over i morgen" (in Danish). Politiken. 2009-04-04. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  17. ^ "Løkke slår kun Thorning på et punkt" (in Danish). Politiken. 2009-04-05. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  18. ^ "Løkke sætter sit første ministerhold" (in Danish). Politiken. 2009-04-07. Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  19. ^ a b Marie Hjortdal. "Løkke får klimadebut i modvind" (in Danish). Politiken.dk. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  20. ^ a b c d Michael Rothenborg, Martin Aagaard og Ellen Ø. Andersen. "Løkke har problemer med topmøde-formen" (in Danish). Politiken.dk. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  21. ^ Marie Sæhl (2010-05-25). "Fakta: Sådan ser den endelige spareplan ud". Politiken. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Kirsten Ebbensgaard
Mayor of Frederiksborg
1998–2001
Succeeded by
Jørgen Christensen
Preceded by
Karen Jespersen
as Minister of the Interior
Minister of the Interior and Health
2001–2007
Succeeded by
Karen Jespersen
as Minister of Social Welfare
Preceded by
Arne Rolighed
as Minister of Health
Succeeded by
Jakob Axel Nielsen
as Minister of Health and Prevention
Preceded by
Thor Pedersen
Minister of Finance
2007–2009
Succeeded by
Claus Hjort Frederiksen
Preceded by
Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Prime Minister of Denmark
2009–2011
Succeeded by
Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Preceded by
Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Leader of the Opposition
2011–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Leader of Venstre
2009–present
Incumbent