And in the end, the grapevine had it right: It was Margrethe Vestager, not Helle Thorning-Schmidt who left for Brussels.
First of all, Helle Thorning-Schmidt has been in a “when will you stop beating your husband”-situation for a long time: Even if she were a possible candidate for the European Council presidency, there was no way she could announce her interest or disclose any details about the process. In fact, it is a bit of a lose-lose situation: If she had left Danish politics for Brussels, she would have been described as a defector. Now, media can spin the “Thorning lost the Council presidency” angle.
Vestager is the highest-ranking politician Denmark has sent to the EU since the appointment of Henning Christophersen in 1985. Incidentally, Christophersen, Vestager and Connie Hedegaard all came from the junior partner in the sitting government. Exactly which portfolio she will get in the Juncker commission remains to be seen – even if the Trade portfolio may be seen as less prominent than some of the economic portfolios it is still central for the foreign relations and economic policies of the EU member states.
Vestager has been party leader (not chairman!) since 2007. 7.5 years in office is a respectable run for a party leader these days, even if she trails her successor Marianne Jelved with 10 years. Her career in national politics spans a 20-year period so she is also typical of the present generation of politicians who enter national politics in their mid-20s and leave before the age of 50.
Finally, Vestager has also been representative of the contemporary Danish social liberals: Distinctively urban, with steely self-control (see: Max Weber on Protestantism), right-wing (or perhaps rather: Neoclassical) with regard to economic policies and left-wing in cultural and immigration issues. Despite the change of party leader, there is little reason to believe that Morten Østergaard will choose a different line.