Lars Løkke Rasmussen RSKmd (Danish: [ˈlɑːs ˈløkə ˈʁɑsmusn̩] ; born 15 May 1964) is a Danish politician who has served as Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2022. He previously served as the 25th Prime Minister of Denmark from 2009 to 2011 and again from 2015 to 2019. He was the leader of the liberal Venstre party from 2009 to 2019.

Lars Løkke Rasmussen
Rasmussen in 2018
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
15 December 2022
Prime MinisterMette Frederiksen
Preceded byJeppe Kofod
Leader of the Moderates
Assumed office
5 June 2022
Preceded byParty established
Prime Minister of Denmark
In office
28 June 2015 – 27 June 2019
MonarchMargrethe II
Preceded byHelle Thorning-Schmidt
Succeeded byMette Frederiksen
In office
5 April 2009 – 3 October 2011
MonarchMargrethe II
DeputyLene Espersen
Lars Barfoed
Preceded byAnders Fogh Rasmussen
Succeeded byHelle Thorning-Schmidt
Leader of Venstre
In office
17 May 2009 – 31 August 2019
Preceded byAnders Fogh Rasmussen
Succeeded byJakob Ellemann-Jensen
Minister of Finance
In office
23 November 2007 – 7 April 2009
Prime MinisterAnders Fogh Rasmussen
Preceded byThor Pedersen
Succeeded byClaus Hjort Frederiksen
Minister of the Interior and Health
In office
27 November 2001 – 23 November 2007
Prime MinisterAnders Fogh Rasmussen
Preceded byKaren Jespersen (Interior)
Arne Rolighed (Health)
Succeeded byKaren Jespersen (Social Welfare)
Jakob Axel Nielsen (Health and Prevention)
Member of the Folketing
Assumed office
21 September 1994
ConstituencyZealand (from 2015)
North Zealand (2007–2015)
Frederiksborg (1994–2007)
Personal details
Born (1964-05-15) 15 May 1964 (age 59)
Vejle, Denmark
Political partyModerates (2021–present)
Other political
Venstre (1980–2021)
SpouseSólrun Jákupsdóttir
Children3 (including Bergur Løkke Rasmussen)
Alma materUniversity of Copenhagen
WebsiteOfficial website

Rasmussen has been a member of the Folketing 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 2011 general election, the government lost its parliamentary majority and Rasmussen tendered the government's resignation to Queen Margrethe II. He was succeeded by Helle Thorning-Schmidt of the Social Democrats on 3 October 2011. In the 2015 general election, the right-wing parties regained a majority in the Folketing. Rasmussen again became Prime Minister and formed his second cabinet in the same month. This cabinet was made up exclusively of Venstre members, but in November 2016 he was pressured to also include members of Liberal Alliance and Conservative People's Party, forming his third cabinet.

On 6 June 2019, he resigned from his position as prime minister after a general election, in which his government was defeated. However, he continued to lead a caretaker government until a new government was formed and sworn in. This was completed on 27 June 2019 and Rasmussen was succeeded as Prime Minister by Mette Frederiksen. He resigned as the chairman of Venstre in August 2019, and left the party in January 2021.[1] He subsequently formed the Moderates, which campaigned on ending bloc politics, and won 16 seats in the 2022 Danish general election.[2][3]

Early life edit

Lars Løkke Rasmussen was born in Vejle to Jeppe Rasmussen and Lise Løkke Rasmussen.[4] His last name is Rasmussen, while Løkke is his middle name.[5]

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 (née Sólrun Jákupsdóttir). Together they have three children.[6]

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 for third world countries — since Operation Dagsværk at the time was spearheaded by members of the Danish Communist Youth.[7] Rasmussen's campaign was supported by the party youth branch, and raised 600,000 DKK which were spent on school equipment[7] 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 AK-47, while standing together with three Mujahideen.[8] 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[9] (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.[10]

Minister of Finance edit

After then Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen won his second reelection in 2007 he created his third cabinet in which Lars Løkke Rasmussen was appointed Minister of Finance. This was seen as a clear indicator that Rasmussen was next in line to follow Fogh as leader of Venstre and Prime Minister, when Fogh would leave Danish politics.[11] As Finance Minister Lars 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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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.[15] An opinion poll released on the day of Lars Løkke Rasmussen's takeover revealed that Danes believed that he only beat Helle Thorning-Schmidt as the person best suited for bringing Denmark through the financial crisis, and that Thorning-Schmidt would have been better suited to combatting unemployment, reducing hospital waiting lists, securing the welfare society of the future, and representing Denmark internationally.[16] On 7 April 2009, Lars Løkke Rasmussen announced the new set of ministers in his Cabinet.[17]

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. 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.[18]

Many developing countries viewed this statement as arrogant. Procedure is a major element in UN negotiations.[19] ”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.[18]

Stanislaus Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator for the Developing Nations' organisation G77, cross examined what exactly Rasmussen meant when stating that the chairmen of the negotiating groups should be "people whom we trust".[19] 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.[19]

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".[19]

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.[20] The cuts were designed to save the government 24 billion DKK.

2011 election edit

Rasmussen led Venstre in the September 2011 parliamentary election. He sought to renew the mandate of the rightwing coalition that had 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.

2015 election and return to government edit

Rasmussen with U.S. President Donald Trump, Washington, D.C., 30 March 2017

Rasmussen led Venstre in the June 2015 general election. His Blue Bloc won a tight election in which his party came third overall, winning Rasmussen the ability to form a government.[21]

All members of Lars Løkke Rasmussen's second Cabinet, composed solely of members of Venstre, were sworn in on 28 June 2015 in the Danish Parliament.[22] As of July 2015, his Cabinet consists of seventeen ministers.

In 2015, Rasmussen denied US Senator Bernie Sanders's characterization of Denmark as socialist, noting that the nation had a market economy.[23]

On 28 November 2016 Rasmussen presented Lars Løkke Rasmussen III Cabinet, composed of members of Venstre, Conservative People's Party and Liberal Alliance.

On 31 May 2018 it was announced that Denmark would be banning full-face veils.[24]

After premiership edit

2019 general election edit

Though Venstre made the largest gains of any party in the 2019 general election, support for the Danish People's Party and Liberal Alliance collapsed, costing Rasmussen his majority. With the result beyond doubt on election night, Rasmussen conceded defeat to the "red bloc" under the Social Democrats' Mette Frederiksen.[25] On 6 June 2019, he announced his resignation. On 31 August 2019, Rasmussen resigned from his position as the chairman of Venstre party following weeks of pressure from party members.[26]

Leader of the Moderates edit

In 2021 Rasmussen founded a new party, the Moderates.[27] In the 2022 Danish general election, the Moderates became the third largest party winning 16 seats.[28] Rasmussen himself received 38,439 personal votes.[29]

Controversies edit

Tax spending edit

Rasmussen has on several occasions been accused of spending tax payer money on himself and his family. In the spring of 2008, he was accused by the media - essentially the Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet - of having charged his official accounts with considerable expenses he should have paid himself, e.g. restaurants, cigarettes, taxis, and hotels, both as county mayor[30] and as minister. All of this has been well documented, according to several independent media sources, although all charges were dropped and there was never a court trial.[31][32] It was something that was according to the rules of the party Venstre.[33][34] In May 2007, Rasmussen was again accused by Ekstra Bladet of having his ministry pay for a hotel room in Copenhagen when he privately attended a Paul McCartney concert in Horsens in 2004.[35][36][37] Since the many serious scandals surrounding Rasmussen were brought to the attention of the public, Venstre has suffered in the polls.[38][39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46]

Global Green Growth edit

In 2013, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) was criticized by two member countries for its financial management: Norway withheld $10 million in donations, citing excessive spending on flights and food by GGGI former Council Chairman Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and both Norway and Denmark demanded an Audit of the organization's finances before renewing support for 2014. Rasmussen was, as the chairman, accused of being greedy, while the other members of GGGI were not accused.[47]

School pressure edit

In 2018, Rasmussen's wife was about to get fired and was called to a meeting with the leader of the school where she worked. Rasmussen, as his wife's civil assessor, came to the meeting, along with his bodyguards. His wife was fired at the meeting. The case resulted in criticism because Rasmussen's position as Prime Minister could be perceived as inappropriate pressure on the school leader and in similar meetings it is usually the union representative that functions as the civil assessor.[48]

Personal life edit

His son Bergur Løkke Rasmussen has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2022.[49]

Honours edit

National honours edit

Foreign honours edit

References edit

  1. ^ Leonhard, Anders (1 January 2021). "Lars Løkke har meldt sig ud af Venstre". BT (in Danish). Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  2. ^ Leonhard, Anders; Sinnbeck, Peter (5 June 2021). "LIVE: Løkke løfter sløret for sit nye parti" – via
  3. ^ "Danish election paves way for centrist government". POLITICO. 1 November 2022. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  4. ^ "Lars Løkke Rasmussen (M)". Folketinget. Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  5. ^ "Lars Løkke smidt ud af hjemmeside". Berlingske. 20 November 2005. Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  6. ^ "Lars Løkke Rasmussen forsømte familien - BILLED-BLADET". 24 December 2009. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  7. ^ a b "I Afghanistan med Lars Løkke Rasmussen" (in Danish). Politiken. 25 February 2009. Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2009.
  8. ^ "Da mujahedinerne var helte" (in Danish). Information. 22 November 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  9. ^ "Løkkeposen på vej ud på sygehusene" (in Danish). BT. 16 November 2006. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
  10. ^ "Regeringens populistiske narreværk" (in Danish). Politiken. 24 March 2009. Archived from the original on 27 March 2009. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  11. ^ "Arvefølgen i Venstre på plads" (in Danish). Berlingske Tidende. 23 November 2007. Archived from the original on 7 October 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
  12. ^ "Nu er skattereformen på plads" (in Danish). Politiken. 1 March 2009. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  13. ^ a b "Direktøren får 53.409 kr. – hjemmehjælper 2.779 kr" (in Danish). Jyllands-Posten. 1 March 2009. Archived from the original on 10 April 2009. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  14. ^ "Fogh bliver ny Nato-chef" (in Danish). Politiken. 4 April 2009. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  15. ^ "Løkke tager over i morgen" (in Danish). Politiken. 4 April 2009. Archived from the original on 7 April 2009. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  16. ^ "Løkke slår kun Thorning på et punkt" (in Danish). Politiken. 5 April 2009. Archived from the original on 8 April 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  17. ^ "Løkke sætter sit første ministerhold" (in Danish). Politiken. 7 April 2009. Archived from the original on 8 April 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2009.
  18. ^ a b Marie Hjortdal. "Løkke får klimadebut i modvind" (in Danish). Archived from the original on 19 December 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  19. ^ a b c d Michael Rothenborg, Martin Aagaard og Ellen Ø. Andersen. "Løkke har problemer med topmøde-formen" (in Danish). Archived from the original on 19 December 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  20. ^ Marie Sæhl (25 May 2010). "Fakta: Sådan ser den endelige spareplan ud". Politiken. Archived from the original on 27 May 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  21. ^ Gani, Aisha (18 June 2015). "Danish election: PM concedes defeat and resigns". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 March 2018 – via
  22. ^ "Her er hele Lars Løkkes ministerhold". Jyllands-Posten. 28 June 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  23. ^ Yglesias, Matthew (31 October 2015). "Denmark's prime minister says Bernie Sanders is wrong to call his country socialist". Vox. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  24. ^ Staff and agencies (31 May 2018). "Denmark passes law banning burqa and niqab". the Guardian.
  25. ^ "Denmark election: Social Democrats win as PM admits defeat". 6 June 2019. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  26. ^ W, Christian (31 August 2019). "Lars Løkke Rasmussen steps down as head of Venstre – The Post". Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  27. ^ "Lars Løkke: Mit nye parti skal hedde Moderaterne". Politiken (in Danish). 5 June 2021. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  28. ^ "Valgresultater 2022 - Mandatfordeling & Personlige stemmer | DR". (in Danish). Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  29. ^ "Hvem er valgt? Se valgte kandidater og personlige stemmer | DR". (in Danish). Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  30. ^ "Fakta: Her er Løkkes tre sager om pengeforbrug og bilag". 16 May 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  31. ^ Fakta, Børsen (2 June 2014). "Fakta: Her er Løkkes bilagssager". Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  32. ^ "Venstre i panik: Sender bilagsbrev til medlemmerne". 16 May 2014.
  33. ^ "Amtsrådspolitikere vil undersøge Løkkes bilagsrod" (in Danish). Politiken. 23 May 2003. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  34. ^ "Lars Løkke på flere hotelbesøg" (in Danish). Politiken. 22 May 2003. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  35. ^ "Løkke tog på betalt hotel efter koncert" (in Danish). Politiken. 20 May 2009.
  36. ^ "Ministerium fik hotelregning efter koncert" (in Danish). DR. 20 May 2008.
  37. ^ "Løkke på hotel efter rockkoncert" (in Danish). TV 2. 20 May 2008. Archived from the original on 28 May 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  38. ^ "Løkke tog på betalt hotel efter koncert –". Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  39. ^ "Ministerium fik hotelregning efter koncert". 20 May 2008. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  40. ^ "Løkke på hotel efter rockkoncert - TV 2". 20 May 2008.
  41. ^ "Løkke på hotel under navnet Jensen". 8 May 2008. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  42. ^ Jacob Friberg (19 May 2014). "Overblik: Her er alle Lars Løkkes møgsager". Politiken.
  43. ^ Morten Henriksen, Michael Elsborg og Anja Westphal (13 May 2014). "Venstre-bagland i hård kritik af Løkke: Nok må være nok". DR.
  44. ^ Kenneth Lund (21 November 2013). "Eksperter har læst GGGI-rapport: Det ligner korruption". Politiken.
  45. ^ Sune Gudmundsson (22 October 2013). "GGGI ramt af ny mistanke om korruption". Berlingske.
  46. ^ "Venstre paid 152,000 kroner for Lars Løkke's suits - News - the Copenhagen Post". Archived from the original on 9 December 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  47. ^ "Norway freezes aid to South Korean climate group". Associated Press. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  48. ^ Janus Østergaard; Per Mathiessen (24 April 2018). "Løkke troppede op på rektors kontor: Sólrun fyret" [Løkke showed up at rectors office: Sólrun fired]. Ekstra Bladet. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  49. ^ "Løkkes søn skifter til Moderaterne | Nyheder". (in Danish). 13 March 2023. Retrieved 13 March 2023.
  50. ^ a b "Lars wearing the Order of the Dannebrog and the Order of the Crown (Belgium)". Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  51. ^ a b "Lars wearing the Order of the Dannebrog and the Order of the Falcon". Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  52. ^ a b c "Lars wearing the Order of the Dannebrog, Order of the Phoenix (Greece) and the Order of Diplomatic Service". Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  53. ^ a b c "Lars wearing the Order of the Dannebrog, Order of Diplomatic Service and the Order of the Phoenix (Greece)". Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  54. ^ a b "Lars wearing the Order of the Dannebrog and the Order of the Phoenix (Greece)". Retrieved 12 August 2018.

External links edit

Political offices
Preceded by County Mayor of Frederiksborg
Succeeded by
Jørgen Christensen
Preceded byas Minister of the Interior Minister of the Interior and Health
Succeeded byas Minister of Social Welfare
Preceded byas Minister of Health Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Denmark
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Prime Minister of Denmark
Preceded by Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister for Foreign Affairs
Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of Venstre
Succeeded by