Obama friend Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the prime minister of Denmark for the past four years, has been defeated in her bid for a second term.
Thorning-Schmidt, the country’s first female leader, famously took a selfie with President Obama and British PM David Cameron during the funeral of Nelson Mandela in December 2013.
After conceding defeat, she stepped down as party leader, and her resignation as prime minister is imminent.
In the voting yesterday, Denmark’s center-right opposition coalition outpolled Thorning-Schmidt’s center-left Social Democrats, and Lars Loekke Rasmussen is likely to become the country’s new prime minister.
“With all of the results counted, the opposition bloc had won 52.3% of the vote or 90 seats in the 179 seat parliament. Ms. Thorning-Schmidt and her allies had secured 47.7% support or 85 seats,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Rasmussen’s own party ironically lost seats in the Danish parliament on Thursday, but the center-right was strengthened by the surprise electoral success of the surging Danish People’s Party, now the second-largest party in the chamber behind the Social Democrats, which is expected to help form the new government. The DPP embraces a generally analogous platform to the UK Independence Party, Ukip, in England.
Similar to political debates ongoing in neighboring countries, immigration, economics, and continued membership in the European Union formed significant issues in the Denmark national election.
“The election, called by Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt just three weeks ago, came at a time when Danes increasingly feared that their cherished system of generous welfare benefits was being abused by migrants from southern Europe and a recent surge of more than 14,000 asylum seekers, mostly Muslims,” the New York Times explained.
In February, Copenhagen was the scene of two terrorist attacks in connection with a free speech event.
Rasmussen’s conservative Liberal party and the populist DPP under its leader, Kristian Thulesen Dahl campaigned among other things on tightening immigration and border security and scaling back public assistance to newcomers.
“The [center-right] block’s agenda will most likely include a tougher stance on the economy. Rasmussen has promised to contain spending in the public sector. Denmark has a vast welfare system, which is under strain from the twin pressures of immigration and an aging population,” Politico reported.
Outgoing Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt is married to British parliamentarian Stephen Kinnock, the son of former U.K. Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock. Based on Stephen Kinnock’s recent comments, his wife may or may not be taking any further selfies with Barack Obama.
In March, Kinnock said that “We have never seen a time where we have such a risk adverse and timid global leadership — President Obama with his dogma of strategic patience, which to me just seems like an excuse to do nothing.”
He also deemed the United Nations a laughing stock.
[image via Twitter]