One of the writers over at dansk-politik.dk wondered about the chances for a snap election sometime during 2010. Now, as we all know elections in Denmark come like a thief in the night (or whatever the correct English term is), so the correct answer to the question “when is the next election?” is “in three weeks or later”.
But when do Danish prime ministers reshuffle their governments in time for an election?
The problem is that for many years, Danish parliaments never lasted anything like a full term. If we take 1953 as our point of departure, only the 1953-1957, 1957-1960, 1960-1964, 1968-1971, 1984-1987, 1990-1994, 1994-1998, 1998-2001 and 2001-2005 parliaments can serve as good cases.
So, here goes:
- May 1956 – minor reshuffle, defence minister Rasmus “Jet” Hansen resigned due to illness.
- March 1960 – minor reshuffle, triggered by the change of prime minister after H.C. Hansen’s death.
- August 1963 – minor reshuffle, Erling Dinesen took over the labour ministry.
- March 1971 – minor reshuffle, finance minister Poul Møller resigned due to illness
- August 1986 – minor reshuffle, transport minister Arne Melchior forced to resign after a media campaign. Schlüter had made a bigger reshuffle in March 1986.
- January 1994 – mid-sized reshuffle. The infamous restart of the first Nyrup Rasmussen government which ended in complete chaos.
- October 1997 – minor reshuffle, Thorkil Simonsen is brought into the government. Still symbolically important as Nyrup Rasmussen wanted to raise the government’s profile in immigration policy.
- December 2000 – mid-sized reshuffle. As it is, the reshuffles came fast and furiously during the last Nyrup Rasmussen government.
- August 2004 – mid-sized reshuffle triggered by the appointment of Mariann Fischer Boel as European commissioner.
The most bizarre reshuffle in modern times – besides the botched January 1994 reshuffle which was a masterpiece of absurd political theatre – has to be the one carried out by Anders Fogh Rasmussen in September 2007, two months before he called the last general election. In many ways 2007 was a crazy year in Danish politics but the reshuffle might serve as a reminder that Fogh wasn’t always in full control of events.
Anyway – unless something totally surprising happens, I expect the next election to come sometime during 2011. Most likely in September.