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Denmark [Danmark]

Denmark
Head of State:
Queen Margrethe II
Head of Government: Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Foreign Minister: Per Stig Moeller
Area: 43,094 km2
Population: 5.36 million
Language: Danish
Capital: Copenhagen
Currency: Danish krone (DKK)
GDP per capita: 33,703 €
GDP growth: 1% (2001)

Constitution - Domestic politics

Denmark is a constitutional monarchy in which the Queen has largely ceremonial functions. Legislative power lies with the Danish Parliament (Folketing) which consists of one chamber of 179 members. Elections are held at least every four years under a system of proportional representation that has yielded a succession of coalition governments.

The 2001 general election resulted in the formation of a coalition government of Liberals and Conservatives under the leadership of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Lib.).

The government has announced a number of reforms relating to the elementary school system, the health system and the labour market and is hoping to generate a broad cross-party consensus for their implementation in 2003.

Economy

One feature that Denmark shares with most of the other Nordic economies is its high proportion of state expenditure. This is particularly evident in the area of employment, with the public sector now accounting for 31 per cent of total employment. It should be noted however that the Danish state sector is one of the most efficient and transparent in the world. The country’s efficient welfare system ensures high living standards, while Denmark enjoys relatively low unemployment rates (five per cent in 2001).

Since the 1960s the importance of the agricultural sector has steadily declined, with output shrinking to 3.5 per cent of GDP in 2000. The sector is still important however in terms of its net foreign currency earning capacity, effect on employment and importance in supplying foodstuffs domestically. The economy leans heavily towards services, which accounted for 71% of GDP in 2000. Industry, including construction, accounts for just under one-quarter of output.

Foreign policy

Denmark’s path in the process of European integration has not been without obstacles. In a referendum held in 2000, 53.1% of Danes voted against the country’s participation in the common currency. The Maastricht Treaty had also initially been rejected in a 1992 referendum, before being adopted the following year. Denmark does not participate in the third phase of Economic and Monetary Union (introduction of the euro) nor in the common defence policy.

Denmark has traditionally been among the most internationally oriented countries. For a number of years, the country has been one of the world’s biggest contributors of development and humanitarian aid per capita. Denmark has also been a generous contributor to UN peacekeeping efforts. Since the war in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Danish troops have been deployed under UN auspices both in the Balkans and more recently in Afghanistan.

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