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Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 19:13 GMT
Profile: Denmark's new prime minister
Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Winner: Anders Fogh Rasmussen celebrates victory
By Line Vaaben Juhl and Thomas Vennekilde in Copenhagen

To win the post of Danish Prime Minister, the leader of the Liberal (Venstre) Party, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has had to undergo a political transformation, crossing from his party's right wing to become a great defender of the welfare state.


He gradually distanced himself from the views of his youth, trying to create an image of himself as a guardian of the welfare state

Born in 1953 and raised on a farm in the countryside in West Denmark, Rasmussen is an archetypal member of the Liberal Party.

And it was no surprise to friends and family, when in 1974, at the age of 21, he became leader of the Young Liberals Party.

Four years later he was elected to parliament, the same year that he graduated in economics.

No campaigners
Rasmussen may soon call another referendum on euro membership
From the first day in parliament it was clear to everyone that Rasmussen was a politician who kept the ideological banner flying high.

He was minister of tax affairs from 1987 to 1992, but left the post after opposition claims he had misled parliament.

Rasmussen has written several books about liberal ideas, but it was his book "From social state to minimal state" which managed to create the most vociferous debate.

'Slave mentality'

The book is a strong attack on the welfare state, which Rasmussen describes as "developing a slave mentality in the people."

At the same time he advocates a movement to the right, away from the middle-ground of politics towards liberalism in its most cultivated form.


There are significant parallels between the way he has led his campaign and the way the UK's Tony Blair and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder have managed to gain power

In 1998 he suceeded Uffe Ellemann Jensen as party leader, and over the following three years, he gradually distanced himself from the views of his youth, trying to create an image of himself as a guardian of the welfare state.

And there are significant parallels between the way he has led his campaign and the way the UK's Tony Blair and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder have managed to gain power - by appealing to the voters in the centre of the political spectrum.

Since the change of character, several cartoonists have depicted Rasmussen literally as a wolf in sheep's clothing, a picture, which the opposition used during the election campaign in an attempt to scare the voters. Seemingly without luck.

Tough policy promises

Rasmussen has manage to attract voters by promising a stricter policy on immigration, harder sentences to criminals and a ceiling on taxes. Promises he will most probably be able to honour with the support of the far right.


He is known for an almost notorious control tendency with his organisation - he demands a lot from his colleagues: laziness is said to make him furious

As for the EU, Rasmussen is a great supporter, and with him at the helm, another referendum about Danish opt-outs is probably soon to come - maybe at the beginning of next year.

Having worked his way all the way up through the party, Rasmussen has both insight and connections in the party - both of which have been very beneficial to him.

He is known for an almost notorious control tendency with his organisation. He demands a lot from his colleagues: laziness is said to make him furious.


He is stubborn in negotiations, but has an ability to dodge the punches when it comes to internal political party fights

Even his political opponents praise him for being extremely well-prepared and thorough - a politician who insists on getting to the bottom of all political issues.

He is stubborn in negotiations, but has an ability to dodge the punches when it comes to internal political party fights.

Though some colleagues might resent his change from wolf to sheep, and regret the lack of a more clearly liberal profile, there seems to be no risk of rebellion from within the party, as long as he can provide success.

Rasmussen and his wife, Anne-Mette, have three grown-up children.

He is known for a very healthy lifestyle: modest consumption of alcohol and a long jog every morning "to clear his head."

It is something he will probably have even more use for in the time to come.

See also:

21 Nov 01 | Europe
Rasmussen v Rasmussen
31 Oct 01 | Europe
Danish PM calls snap election
19 Nov 01 | Europe
Danes undecided as polls loom
22 Aug 01 | Europe
Danes criticise immigrant list
09 Nov 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Denmark
23 Nov 01 | Europe
Europe guages Danish no vote
28 Sep 00 | Europe
Danes say no to euro
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