The Danish Parliament
Coat of arms or logo
Seats 179
Current Structure of the Folketing
Political groups

Government (53)

Supported by (37)

Official Opposition (47)

Other Opposition (42)

Open list proportional representation with a 2% election threshold
Last election
18 June 2015
Next election
Before 18 June 2019
Meeting place
Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen
1. Faroese and Greenlandic political parties represented in the Danish parliament

The Folketing (Danish: Folketinget, pronounced [ˈfʌlɡ̊ətˢeŋˀð]; lit. the people's thing), also known as the Danish Parliament in English,[1] is the unicameral national parliament (legislature) of the Kingdom of Denmark. Established in 1849, until 1953 the Folketing was the lower house of a bicameral parliament, called the Rigsdag; the upper house was the Landsting. It meets in Christiansborg Palace, on the islet of Slotsholmen in central Copenhagen.

The Folketing passes all laws, approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government. It is also responsible for adopting the state's budgets and approving the state's accounts. As set out in the Danish Constitution, the Folketing shares power with the reigning monarch. In practice, however, the monarch's role is limited to signing laws passed by the legislature; this must be done within 30 days of adoption.

The Folketing consists of 179 representatives; 175 from Denmark, 2 from Greenland and a further 2 from the Faroe Islands. General elections must be held every four years, but it is within the powers of the Prime Minister to ask the monarch to call for an election before the term has elapsed. On a vote of no confidence, the Folketing may force a single Minister or the entire government to resign.[2]

Members are democratically elected by proportional representation: 135 by the D'Hondt method and 40 by the Sainte-Laguë method. The Danish political system has traditionally generated coalitions. Most post-war governments have been minority coalitions ruling with the support of non-government parties.[3]

The most recent general election took place on 18 June 2015 and the Folketing reconvened on 6 October. The first sitting of the house was attended by Queen Margrethe II.[4]


From 1849 to 1953 the Folketing was one of the two houses in the bicameral parliament known as the Rigsdag; the other house was known as the Landsting. Since both houses, in principle, had equal power, the terms "upper house" and "lower house" were not generally used. The difference between the houses was voter representation.

The Folketing was elected by common vote among men and consisted mainly of independent farmers, traders, and merchants as well as the educated classes (i.e., the liberal forces of society). From 1866 to 1915 the right of vote for the Landsting was restricted to the wealthiest, and some of its members were appointed by the king, thus it predominantly represented the landed gentry and other conservatives. From 1915 both men and women had the right of vote for both houses, and also the Landsting was elected by common vote, although indirectly and with a higher age limit than for the Folketing. During the next decades, law-making mainly took place in the Folketing and the Landsting came to be regarded as a superfluous rubber stamp.

Christiansborg Palace, the location of the Folketing chamber since 1849

In 1953, a revised constitution was adopted by popular vote. Among the changes was the elimination of the Landsting and the introduction of a unicameral parliament, known only as the Folketing. Christiansborg Palace (also known by its nickname Borgen, Danish for the castle) has been the domicile of parliament since 1849. The palace is located in the heart of Copenhagen.

Winning a seat in parliament requires only 2% of the vote. With such a low election threshold, a large number of parties are represented in the chamber, making it all but impossible for one party to win the 90 seats necessary for a majority. No party has achieved this since 1901. All Danish governments since then have been coalitions or one-party minority governments. For this reason, a long-standing provision in the constitution allows a government to take office without getting a vote of confidence and stay in office as long as it does not lose a vote of no confidence. One consequence is that, unlike in most other parliamentary systems, a Danish government can never be sure its legislative agenda will pass, and it must assemble a majority for each individual piece of legislation.

Constitutional requirements

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Composition of members
Voting system
Voter requirements
Bertel Haarder (V) making a speech
View from the gallery
Parliamentary privileges

Forming a parliament

The 179 members of the folketing are directly elected to four-year terms, subject to calls for early elections. All Danish citizens 18 years or older may vote in legislative elections, which are conducted by secret ballot. Folketing seats are allocated among the various parties using the D'Hondt method of party list proportional representation. A party or electoral alliance must pass the election threshold of 2% of the overall vote to be allocated a seat. Parties select their candidates using a closed list. Thus, voters select the party of their choice, not any specific candidate.

Coalition governments

The Danish political system is characterised by a fusion of powers, with the government being drawn from the ranks of the Folketing. Denmark is governed by a Cabinet and a Prime Minister commanding a majority in the Folketing. In order to command a majority and pass laws, the Prime Minister must form alliances with parties outside government, as well as multiple parties within a coalition Cabinet.

During his first term, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, led a centre-right minority government consisting of the Liberal Party (Venstre) and the Conservative People's Party. This coalition government worked with regular parliamentary support from the national conservative Danish People's Party and often gained the necessary 90th seat for majority in the Folketing through negotiations with either the sole MP from the Christian Democrats, Ørum-Jørgensen[6] or another MP outside parties, Christmas Møller, both elected in 2007 as conservative MPs and having defected since then.

Since the 2007 elections, the Liberal Alliance (previously Ny Alliance) have gained momentum in opinion polls, and since early 2010, the governing coalition have not been able to gather a majority in the polls without the support of the Alliance. The continuing rise in the polls is to an extent the result of the internal crisis in the Conservative People's Party over the leadership Lene Espersen[7] and the continuing debate over a lack of "true" liberal/conservative ideology in government policy.[8]

On 13 January 2011, the continuing turmoil within the Conservative group in the Folketing caused Lene Espersen to resign as political leader of the party and focus on her role as Minister of Foreign Affairs.[9] A leadership election between Brian Mikkelsen, the Minister of Economic and Business Affairs and Lars Barfoed, the Justice Minister, was widely expected,[10] but on 14 January the Conservative group in the Folketing unanimously elected Barfoed as their new political leader.[11]

The Social Democrats under the leadership of Helle Thorning-Schmidt have enjoyed continuing majorities in opinion polls since late 2009 and hopes to form a centre-left government coalition consisting of the Socialist People's Party and the Social Liberal Party with parliamentary support from the small Red-Green Alliance.[12][13]

Both Margrethe Vestager (Social Liberal Party) and Villy Søvndal (Socialist People's Party) pledged their support to Thorning-Schmidt before the election.[14] But there has been considerable debate about the future politics of this coalition, mainly because the Social Liberal Party demands a more liberal economic agenda. Also on immigration issues there are political differences between the three coalition parties. This has led some observers to believe that the Social Liberal Party will not join a government coalition but instead opt to be a part of the parliamentary support of a new, centre-left government.[15] In the event the Social Liberals did join the new three-party coalition government formed on 3 October.

Following the 2015 general election, Thorning-Schmidt has been replaced as Prime Minister by her predecessor Lars Løkke Rasmussen. He leads a government consisting only of Venstre—an extremely unusual situation in Danish politics.


The Speaker is the presiding officer of the Folketing. The Speaker determines which members may speak, and is responsible for maintaining order during debates. The position was created in 1850, and the inaugural holder of the office was Carl Christoffer Georg Andræ. The current Speaker is Pia Kjærsgaard, former leader of the Danish People's Party.[16] The Speaker is nominated by the Prime Minister immediately following a general election and is confirmed by members; the Speaker appoints four deputies.[16]

Current composition

Christiansborg Palace, the seat of the three branches of government: the Folketing, the Prime Minister's Office and the Supreme Court. Here it is surrounded by posters, a typical scene during an election season.
 Summary of the 18 June 2015 Parliament of Denmark election results[17][18][19]
Parties Leaders Votes Seats
# % ± # ±
Denmark proper
Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterne) (A) Helle Thorning-Schmidt 925,288 26.3 Increase 1.5 47 Increase 3
Danish People's Party (Dansk Folkeparti) (O) Kristian Thulesen Dahl 741,173 21.1 Increase 8.8 37 Increase 15
Liberals (Venstre, Danmarks Liberale Parti) (V) Lars Løkke Rasmussen 684,223 19.5 Decrease 7.2 34 Decrease 13
Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) (Ø) Collective leadership 273,870 7.8 Increase 1.1 14 Increase 2
Liberal Alliance (Liberal Alliance) (I) Anders Samuelsen 264,449 7.5 Increase 2.5 13 Increase 4
The Alternative (Alternativet) (Å) Uffe Elbæk 168,585 4.8 New 9 New
Danish Social Liberal Party (Det Radikale Venstre) (B) Morten Østergaard 160,672 4.6 Decrease 4.5 8 Decrease 9
Socialist People's Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti) (F) Pia Olsen Dyhr 148,027 4.2 Decrease 5.0 7 Decrease 9
Conservative People's Party (Det Konservative Folkeparti) (C) Søren Pape Poulsen 118,015 3.4 Decrease 1.5 6 Decrease 2
Christian Democrats (Kristendemokraterne) (K) Stig Grenov 29,148 0.8 Steady 0 0 Steady 0
Candidates without parties 3,027 0.2 Increase 0.1 0 Steady 0
Blue Alliance (O, V, I, C, K) Lars Løkke Rasmussen 1,837,008 51.7 Increase 1.9 90 Increase 4
Red Alliance (A, Ø, Å, B, F) Helle Thorning-Schmidt 1,676,442 47.1 Decrease 3.1 85 Decrease 4
Invalid votes 40,068
Subtotal(Turnout: 85.8% – electorate: 4,145,321) 3,556,545 100.0 175
Faroe Islands
Republic (Tjóðveldi) (E) Høgni Hoydal 5,730 24.5 Increase 5.1 1 Increase 1
Social Democratic Party (Javnaðarflokkurin) (C) Aksel V. Johannesen 5,666 24.3 Increase 3.3 1 Steady 0
Union Party (Sambandsflokkurin) (B) Kaj Leo Johannesen 5,500 23.5 Decrease 7.3 0 Decrease 1
People's Party (Fólkaflokkurin) (A) Jørgen Niclasen 4,368 18.7 Decrease 0.3 0 Steady 0
Progress (Framsókn) (F) Poul Michelsen 749 3.2 New 0 New
Centre Party (Miðflokkurin) (H) Jenis av Rana 605 2.6 Decrease 1.6 0 Steady 0
Self-Government Party (Sjálvstýrisflokkurin) (D) Jógvan Skorheim 403 1.6 Decrease 0.7 0 Steady 0
Candidates without parties 345 1.5 Decrease 1.8 0 Steady 0
Invalid votes 210
Subtotal(Turnout: 65.6% – electorate: 35,614) 23,576 100.0 2
Inuit Community (Inuit Ataqatigiit) (IA) Sara Olsvig 7,904 38.5 Decrease 4.2 1 Steady 0
Forward (Siumut) (S) Kim Kielsen 7,831 38.2 Increase 1.1 1 Steady 0
Democrats (Demokraatit) (D) Anda Uldum 1,753 8.5 Increase 4.1 0 Steady 0
Feeling of Community (Atassut) (A) Knud Kristiansen 1,526 7.4 Decrease 0.1 0 Steady 0
Partii Naleraq (PN) Hans Enoksen 962 4.7 New 0 New
Invalid votes 538
Subtotal(Turnout: 50.0% – electorate: 41,048) 20,514 100.0 2
Blue Alliance (O, V, I, C, K) Lars Løkke Rasmussen 1,837,008 51.0 Increase 1.7 90 Increase 3
Red Alliance (A, Ø, Å, B, F, Tjóðveldi, Javnaðarflokkurin, Inuit Ataqatigiit, Siumut) Helle Thorning-Schmidt 1,703,573 47.3 Decrease 2.9 89 Decrease 3
Total(Turnout: 85.3% – electorate: 4,221,983) 3,600,635 100.0 179

All turnout figures include invalid votes, subtotals and totals exclude invalid votes

The Liberals formed a minority government, while supported by three right-wing parties, Danish People's Party, Liberal Alliance and the Conservative People's Party.

See also


  1. "About the Danish Parliament". The Danish Parliament. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  2. "A Minister shall not remain in office after the Parliament has passed a vote of no confidence in him." The Constitution of Denmark – Section 15.
  3. "Radikale ved historisk skillevej". Berlingske Tidende. 17 June 2007. Retrieved 17 August 2007.
  4. "The Danish Parliament opens on 6 October". Folketinget (The Danish Parliament). Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  5. Det danske valgsystem. Valg til Folketinget (Danish). Ministry of the Interior and Social Affairs
  6. "Kristendemokraterne vil med i finansloven" (in Danish). 26 July 2011. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  7. "Lene Espersens krise smitter af på Løkke – Politiko |". Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  8. Af Uffe Tang og Christian Brøndum. "Liberal Alliance redder regeringen – Politiko |". Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  9. Af Lene Frøslev. ""Det er den rigtige beslutning" – Politiko |". Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  10. Af Morten Henriksen og Chris Kjær Jessen. "Både Barfoed og Brian vil afløse Lene – Politiko |". Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  11. Af Louise Lyck Dreehsen. "Barfoed taler til pressen – Politiko |". Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  12. "Rød dominans – Politik". 13 June 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  13. "Greens: Markant rødt flertal –". Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  14. "Vestager peger på Helle Thorning". 20 October 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  15. "Radikale med i regering – hvis ... –". 19 August 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  16. 1 2 "The Speaker". The Danish Parliament. Retrieved 23 August 2015.

Coordinates: 55°40′34″N 12°34′47″E / 55.67611°N 12.57972°E / 55.67611; 12.57972

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