Constitutional Background

Denmark is a constitutional monarchy headed by Queen Margrethe II.  The legislative and executive authorities are vested in the monarch who acts through a cabinet of ministers, headed by the prime minister, responsible to the Parliament.

The cabinet is appointed by the prime minister and approved by the Parliament. Since November 27th, 2001, the prime minister is Anders Fogh Rasmussen of the Liberal Party.

The Faeroe Islands have been a self-governing colony under the Danish Realm since 1948, and in 1979 Greenland attained a similar status.  Total independence from Denmark has been an increasingly debated topic through the past years.

Although the Parliament has a maximum term of 4 years, elections are generally called more frequently.  Coalition governments have predominated since 1945, the prime minister usually being chosen from the party with the most seats in the Parliament.

Local government is exercised by elected county and municipal councils.  Since 1955, Denmark has had an Ombudsman, who oversees the conduct of the cabinet and the decisions of the administration.  All citizens have the right to appeal government actions to the ombudsman.

History and News

  • 9 June 2009: Referendum on changing the Danish Act of Succession (eliminating male-preference primogeniture in favour of absolute primogeniture) was successful. No constitutional amendment was made.
  • 2 June 2006: Revision of the Succession to the Throne Act, giving women and equal access to the throne.
  • 5 June 1953: Revision of the constitution establishing a unicameral legislature (Folketinget) and providing for basic human rights.  It also provided for the possibility of a female head of state and the surrendering of powers to international organisations, such as the UN and later, the EU.
  • 10 Sep 1920: Minor revision of the constitution; reunion with Northern Schleswig.
  • 5 June 1915: Revision of the constitution, granting suffrage to women and servants. Not set into force before the end of World War I (1918).
  • 28 July 1866: Revision of the constitution, giving the monarch influence on elections to the Landstinget and a seat in the State Council.
  • 5 June 1849: New constitution instating a constitutional monarchy and a bicameral legislature (Landstinget and Folketinget).
  • 14 Nov 1665: 'King's Law' (Kongeloven), based on absolute monarchy, is one of the earliest written European constitutional documents.

For methodology see: Comparing Constitutions and International Constitutional Law.
© 1994 - 4.3.2022 / For corrections please contact A. Tschentscher.