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Poul Nyrup Rasmussen 

In office
25 January 1993 – 27 November 2001
Monarch Margrethe II
Preceded by Poul Schlüter
Succeeded by Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Member of the European Parliament
for Denmark
In office
19 July 2004 – 14 July 2009

Assumed office 
24 April 2004
Preceded by Robin Cook

Leader of the Social Democrats
In office
1992 – 2002
Preceded by Svend Auken
Succeeded by Mogens Lykketoft

Born 15 June 1943 (1943-06-15) (age 66)
Esbjerg, Denmark
Political party Social Democrats
Party of European Socialists
Alma mater University of Copenhagen
Religion Danish National Church

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen (Danish pronunciation: [⁽ˈ⁾pʰʌʊ̯l ny(ː)ɔb̥ ˈʁɑsmusn̩]), informally Poul Nyrup ([⁽ˈ⁾pʰʌʊ̯l nyːˀɔb̥]), born 15 June 1943), was Prime Minister of Denmark from 25 January 1993 to 27 November 2001 and is currently President of the Party of European Socialists (PES). He was the leader of the governing Social Democrats from 1992 to 2002. He is not related to the succeeding two Prime Ministers of Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen or Lars Løkke Rasmussen. He was a member of the European Parliament from 2004-09.


Early life

Rasmussen was born to a working-class family in Esbjerg in 1943. His parents were Oluf Nyrup Rasmussen and Vera Eline Nyrup Rasmussen. He was educated at the University of Copenhagen, earning a degree in Economics in 1971. While studying he was active in the social democratic student union Frit Forum, where he met some of his future political colleagues. He paid his way through university by doing several jobs, like counting traffic and being a part-time delivery boy.

Prime Minister 1993-2001

Rasmussen replaced Svend Auken, the long serving leader of the Social Democrats, after his failure to form a government with the Radikale Venstre after the 1990 election, despite good results for both parties. Many in the party felt that Auken had stuck to a too left wing agenda, scuttling a possible deal with the more centrist Radikale Venstre.

Rasmussen came to power in early 1993 when then-Prime Minister Poul Schlüter resigned after an inquiry found that he had misinformed the Folketing about the so-called Tamil Case.

A coalition of Social Democrats, Social Liberals, Centre Democrats and Christian Democrats, Rasmussen's first cabinet made use of limited classical Keynesianism in connection with the so-called kick-start of 1993-94 as its economic policy. Under Rasmussen, Denmark experienced the most comprehensive privatisation of publicly-owned assets in the 20th century. The Christian Democrats left the coalition after their defeat in the 1994 Folketing election, as did the Centre Democrats in late 1996. Key ministers were Economy and Deputy Prime Minister, Social Liberal leader Marianne Jelved, Finance Minister Mogens Lykketoft (Social Democrats) and Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen (Social Liberals).

The centre-left coalition only narrowly held on to its parliamentary majority in the 1998 Folketing election. After the election Prime Minister Rasmussen stated that the government's first order of business was to secure a "yes" vote in the upcoming referendum on ratification of the Amsterdam Treaty between the member states of the European Union. Eventually there were 55% "yes" votes in the Danish Amsterdam Treaty referendum. Rasmussen's government later presided over the 2000 referendum on Danish participation in the Euro, in which participation was rejected by 53.2% of the vote.

A 1998 initiative, dubbed the Whitsun Packet (Danish: Pinsepakken) from the season it was issued, increased taxes, limiting private consumption. It was not universally popular with the electorate, which may have been a factor in the Social Democrats' defeat in the 2001 parliamentary election.

Rasmussen called an early election in 2001, saying this would give the next prime minister time to prepare for Denmark's upcoming presidency of the European Union in 2002. The patriarchal role Rasmussen had built for himself since the September 11 attacks had gained him and the Social Liberals their highest poll ratings in years, a lead that would be eroded in the buildup to the election.[1]

He was up against Liberal leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The campaign focused mainly on immigration and refugees, which worked to the benefit of the anti-immigration Danish People's Party. Two in every three Danes now supported tighter immigration restrictions, compared to only one in two before September 11. In the last few days of the campaign a number of predominantly left-leaning artists and intellectuals urged the Danish electorate not to vote for a rightwing government, warning that the Danish People's Party would then be likely to wield great influence on government policy.[1]

Other campaign focuses were on welfare and health care. Poul Nyrup Rasmussen stated the aim of creating a more robust economy to deal with the economic downturn.[2] There was little debate about the European Union as the two leaders' opinions on that subject were largely the same.

The loss of power in the 2001 election to Anders Fogh Rasmussen's Venstre meant that the Social Democrats lost their position as the largest party in the Folketing, a position they had held without interruption since the Danish Folketing election in 1924. On election night Rasmussen vowed to stay on as party leader, famously declaring, "I will not run away with my tail between my legs."[3] He announced an effort of "renewal" within the Social Democrats, urging the promotion of centrist party members to leadership positions. Influential factions opposed Rasmussen's efforts, calling his leadership into question, and in late 2002 he announced that he would be stepping down as chairman.[4]

European Parliament, 2004

Rasmussen became a MEP for the Party of European Socialists after winning a record number of 407,966 votes for an individual (from Denmark) in the European Parliamentary elections in 2004. He sat on both the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.

A key issue tackled by Rasmussen in the European Parliament was the lack of regulation for private equity and hedge funds. He worked to secure greater regulation in this area. starting long before the onset of the financial crisis. His report, proposing binding rules for all players as well as greater transparency and accountability, was passed by the European Parliament in September 2008. Rasmussen has since criticised the European Commission, and in particular Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso and Commissioner Charlie McCreevy for failing to respond to the report with sufficient speed or dedication[5].

Rasmussen has also slammed the Commission's response to the economic crisis; in March 2009 he wrote: "A new, updated Recovery Plan is needed now, otherwise there will be 25 million unemployed in 2010. There must be real coordination focused on real investments. Europe also needs to do more for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. It is in our common economic and political interest to prevent financial meltdown in those countries. Europe talks a lot about solidarity, now is the time it is really needed."[6]

Party of European Socialists, 2004-2009

In 2004 Rasmussen defeated Giuliano Amato to be elected President of the PES, succeeding Robin Cook in the post. He was re-elected for a further 2.5 years at the PES Congress in Porto on 8 December 2006. The position involves coordinating the political vision of the party, ensuring unity, chairing the party presidency and representing the party on a regular basis. As PES President he is also President of the Global Progressive Forum and sits on committee of Transatlantic Dialogue, which fosters cooperation between progressives from the USA and Europe.Rasmussen has played a central role in making the party more inclusive and oversaw the launch of the network 'PES Activists', as well as a radically participative consultation process to construct the party's manifesto for the European election 2009.

Rasmussen's influence in politicising the PES can be seen in the party's headline political initiative, New Social Europe[7]. Based on a report written by Rasmussen and former President of the European Commission Jacques Delors, this aims at creating a "fairer, more inclusive, and more dynamic society".


Personal life

Rasmussen is married to Lone Dybkjær, a member of the Folketing (and a former MEP) for the centrist Radikale Venstre. He enjoys holidaying with his wife in their second house as well as swimming, walking, and reflecting with friends. He also likes listening to music.[8]


Rasmussen is a member of the Club of Madrid.[9] In 2007 he published the book I grådighedens tid (In a Time of Greed), which contains harsh criticism of the role hedge and venture capital funds play in the global economy.


External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Svend Auken
Leader of the Danish Social Democrats
Succeeded by
Mogens Lykketoft
Preceded by
Robin Cook
President of the Party of European Socialists
Political offices
Preceded by
Poul Schlüter
Prime Minister of Denmark
Succeeded by
Anders Fogh Rasmussen


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