Anders Fogh Rasmussen (born 26 January, 1953) is the current Prime Minister of Denmark. His Liberal (Venstre) Party won power in the November 2001 election, defeating the government of Poul Nyrup Rasmussen and enabling him to form the Cabinet of Anders Fogh Rasmussen I. That election marked a dramatic change in Danish politics. It was the first time since 1920 that the Social Democratic Party lost its position as the largest party in the Folketing (parliament). Since then, the Liberal Party has operated in coalition with the Conservative People's Party to form a minority government, surviving the 2005 election. Rasmussen's government's agenda is significantly more right wing than has been the case in Denmark for a long time. He is in favour of deregulation, privatization, and limiting the size of government. His government has also enacted tough measures designed to limit the number of immigrants coming to Denmark.
He was born in 1953 and has been active in politics all of his life. He has held numerous positions in government and opposition throughout his career, first winning a seat in the Folketing in 1978. From 1987-1990 he was Minister for Taxation and from 1990 Minister for Economy and Taxation in the Conservative-led Poul Schlüter government. In 1992 Rasmussen resigned from his ministerial posts after a court of enquiry had decided that he had provided the Folketing with inaccurate and incomplete information. Rasmussen disagreed with the findings of the commission, but faced with the threat of a no-confidence motion, he decided to leave his posts voluntarily.
Rasmussen held the rotating presidency of the European Union from July to December 2002 during which he proved his dedication to a pro-EU agenda and the guiding principles of the Ellemann-Jensen-Doctrine.
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen is the author of numerous books.
The Prime Minister is known for his writing the book Fra socialstat til minimalstat (eng: From social state to minimal state), where he advocates an extensive reform of the Danish welfare system , along classic liberal lines, i.e. lower taxes, less government interference in corporate and individual matters etc. In 1993 he was awarded the Adam Smith award by the libertarian society Libertas , partly on account of his authoring Fra socialstat til minimalstat. Rasmussen has however since then moved quite a bit away from the extreme liberal views expressed in the book.
War in Iraq
As Prime Minister, Rasmussen strongly supported the American war in Iraq. As in most European countries he faced considerable opposition. Subsequent opinion polls suggested the Danish population's opinion was split on the issue. One vocal opponent gained entrance to the Danish parliament where he poured red paint on the prime minister during the lead up to the war. In the months after the war, Danish troops participated in the multi-national force occupying Iraq. Approximately 550 Danish troops were stationed in Iraq throughout 2004 and into 2005 at "Camp Danevang" near Basra.
In 2004 Rasmussen's government came under scrutiny over questions of how much intelligence it had with regard to Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The government held hearings, and was forced to publish classified reports it had consulted about the likelihood of banned weapons existing in Iraq.
Civil unions between gay couples have been legal in Denmark since 1989. Rasmussen believes that they should be able to be married in religious ceremonies, which is not currently allowed, but has said it should be up to religious communities to decide whether to perform ceremonies for gay couples.
Since the elections in 2001, Venstre, AFR's party, has enacted a total "tax stop", to halt the unprecedented growth in taxes seen during the previous 8 years under the Social Democrats (Socialdemokratiet). This tax stop has been under heavy fire from the parties on the left wing of Danish politics, allegedly for being "antisocial" and "only for the rich".
It has, however, been ineffective, judging by Venstre's own intentions. The goal of the tax stop was to halt the growth of public expenditures (and hopefully, halt the growth of taxes), but even with their cuts in public spending (which have been considered aggressive by the aforementioned political left wing), public spending has continued to rise by approximately 1% above inflation, per year.
From 2004 and onwards, symbolic tax cuts go into effect, on two accounts:
First, people with jobs get a 3% tax reduction on the 5.5% "bottom tax" (da. Bundskat). This initiative is supposed to encourage people to go off welfare, and take jobs instead.
Second, the bottom limit of the "middle tax" (da: Mellemskat) of 6%, is raised by 12.000 kr every year, over the next 4 years. This will limit the income stresses of middle incomes and families with children.
Venstre has so far refrained from making statements on the future of the "top tax" (da: Topskat) of 15%, and the VAT (da: "MOMS") of 25%.
One of the main initiatives of his term was the introduction of municipal reform. Under the proposal the number of counties (amter) would be reduced to five from thirteen. Also, the responsibilities of municipalities and counties would change significantly, especially with regard to health care delivery.
On January 18, 2005 Rasmussen called a election for February 8, 2005. He delayed the call by a couple of weeks because of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake which killed many Danes. His government had been criticized by some Danes for what they thought was a slow response to that crisis, although a clear majority applauded the government's way of dealing with the disaster.
Although his party's vote did slip from the 2001 election, losing 4 seats, the Liberal party was able to maintain its coalition after the election through gains by other parties, and on February 18 Rasmussen formed the Cabinet of Anders Fogh Rasmussen II. Rasmussen received the most "personal votes" of any politician in Denmark with 61,792.