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Denmark has been a constitutional monarchy since 1849. The original Constitution established a bicameral Parliament, which was replaced by a unicameral Parliament, the Folketing,
through the revised Constitution of 1953. The Folketing houses 179
representatives, 175 of whom are elected by proportional representation in Denmark proper. Two representatives are elected by each of Denmark's internally self-governing dependencies, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Elections are held at least every fourth year, but Governments may and quite often do call elections sooner - an option which is either absent or rarely exercised in other Nordic countries.
Denmark's system of proportional representation has a low threshold: any party that receives at least 2 % of the national vote is assured of representation. Until the 1980s, more parties were usually represented in the Danish Parliament than in those of other Nordic countries. Due to developments in the other countries, however, the situation is now quite similar, with 7-8 parties represented in most of the Parliaments.
During the past century, Denmark has very rarely - more rarely than any other Nordic country - had majority Governments. No single party has ever been within reach of a parliamentary majority, and even majority governing coalitions have been rare. This means that Parliament often plays a decisive role in effective decision-making, as Governments generally have to negotiate for the support of other parties. This has at times been of major importance for environmental policy - for instance in the 1980s, when a centre-right Government was supported on a day-to-day basis by the Radical Party, but that party nevertheless tended to align with the left Opposition on environmental issues. There is also a strong tradition in Denmark of trying to negotiate parliamentary compromises that are as broad as possible on important issues, in order to secure not just the passage of bills in the current Parliament but also continuity beyond the next election. The compromises on energy policy of 2004 and 2008 (see "Climate and Energy") is one example of this.
The Danish Parliament has 25 standing committees, including a Committee on Energy Policy and an Environment and Regional Planning Committee.
The present Parliament was elected in 2007. The governing parties, the Liberals and Conservatives, hold 46 and 18 seats respectively, and thus depend on the day-to-day support of the nationalist Danish People's Party (25 seats), as well as either the New Alliance Party (5 seats) or one Faroese representative for a majority. The Opposition parties are the Social Democrats (45), Socialist People's Party (23), Radicals (9) and Green Left (4). 4 members represent Faroese or Greenland parties.
Information on Danish parliamentary routines can be
found in the chapter Sessional year and work in the Chamber (pp.
18-21) in the fact sheet The
parliamentary system of Denmark.
THE PARTY GROUPS
Presentation of the Parliament's 25 standing committees.
1. The Standing Orders Committee
2. The Scrutineers’ Committee
3. The Labour Market Committee
4. The Housing Committee
5. The Energy Policy Committee
6. The Trade and Industry Committee
7. The European Affairs Committee
8. The Finance Committee
9. The Defence Committee
10. The Naturalization Committee
11. The Ecclesiastical Affairs Committee
12. The Municipal Affairs Committee
13. The Cultural Affairs Committee
14. The Environment and Regional Planning Committee
15. The Economic and Political Affairs Committee
16. The Legal Affairs Committee
17. The Fiscal Affairs Committee
18. The Social Services Committee
19. The Health Committee
20. The Transport Committee
21. The Education Committee
22. The Foreign Affairs Committee
23. The Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Commitee
24. The Immigration and Integration Affairs Committee
25. The Science and Technology Committee
[Last updated: 20.10.2008]