Denmark elects first female PM

Social Democrat Helle Thorning Schmidt brings 10 years of center-right rule to an end.

By REUTERS
September 16, 2011 08:41
1 minute read.
Danish PM elect Helle Thorning Schmidt

Thorning-Schmidt 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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This is the woman Danish voters hope will fix the economy.

Social Democrat Helle Thorning-Schmidt is set to become Denmark's first female prime minister.

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"The road has been long. They have been hard times and we've struggled but tonight we've shown that the Social Democrats are still a big force holding up society," Thorning-Schmidt said.

Her win ends 10 years of center-right rule.

Emotions ran high at her party event.

"I'm happy, it's indescribable but I'm really happy, you can feel the pure happiness coming from this room. It's really amazing," said Social Democrat supproter, Isa Petersen.

The economy will be Thorning-Schmidt's first task.

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Her plan includes increased government spending, raising taxes on the wealthy and a somewhat unusual idea to increase the working day by 12 minutes.

This adds up to an extra hour each week which her group says will help kick-start economic growth.

The current prime minister is to step down on Friday but warns her not to get too comfortable.

"I will give the keys to the State Ministry and I want to say 'Dear Helle - take care of the keys because they're not for keeps,"  said Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.

A preliminary tally shows her Red bloc won by a slim majority of five seats.

She now must form a government.

Complicating this is the fact that the two biggest winners were far-left Red-Green Alliance and the centrist Social Liberals.

They both back Thorning-Schmidt, but agree on little else.

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