Danes elect their first female prime minister

Helle Thorning-Schmidt is heading the four-party alliance that won September’s general election and will soon become the first Danish woman PM.

The coalition of center-left parties, led by Thorning-Schmidt, has broken a decade long right-wing dominance and come to power in Denmark. Thorning-Schmidt, also known as Helle Gucci because of her designer clothes and handbags, has headed the Social Democrats since 2005 and is credited with uniting the party which she inherited in a state of disarray after the 2005 election loss.

She has accomplished the previously unthinkable task of drawing the far-left Red Greens and the centrist and market liberal Social Liberal Party into the same coalition, which also includes the centre-left Socialist People’s Party. The coalition is considered by many as more significant than her becoming Denmark’s first woman PM. “The fact that she is a woman is secondary,” said Ann Linde, the international secretary for the Social Democrats in neighboring Sweden.

Thorning-Schmidt’s gender has in fact barely been mentioned during the campaign, and observers say they do not expect gender equality to rise higher on the agenda with her in charge.

When it comes to the economy – the main focus of the election – she has moved increasingly left, now fiercely defending Denmark’s early retirement system. She has also called for higher taxes on the wealthy, although she and her family live in one of Copenhagen’s poshest neighborhoods.

Because of her good financial situation, sophistication and designer clothing, it was at first difficult for the party base to accept her; however, because of her accomplishments, the initial resistance to her image quickly wore off.

Source: VoxFeminae.net