Folketing

Folketing

[fohl-kuh-ting]
Folketing, national parliament of Denmark. Formerly the lower house of the bicameral Rigsdag, it became the sole parliamentary body in 1953. It shares legislative power with the monarch, who can dissolve the body but cannot assume major international obligations without its consent. It is elected by universal suffrage, and its term is four years. Ministers can vote in the Folketing only if they are members.
{{Infobox Legislature | name = Folketing | coa_pic = Logo_ft.svg | coa_res = 120px | session_room = Folketingssalen-2006.jpg | session_res = 230px | house_type = Unicameral | leader1_type = Speaker | leader1 = Thor Pedersen | party1 = Venstre | election1 = 28 November 2007 | members = 179 | p_groups = Venstre (47)
Social Democrats (45)
Danish People's Party (25)
Socialist People's Party (23)
Conservative People's Party (17)
Social Liberal Party (9)
Red-Green Alliance (4)
Liberal Alliance (3)
Siumut (1)
Inuit Ataqatigiit (1)
Republican Party (1)
Union Party (1)
Independent (2) | election3 = 13 November 2007 | meeting_place = Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen | website = www.folketinget.dk }}

The Folketing [ˈfɔlgəˌtʰeŋˤ], or Folketinget, is the national parliament of Denmark. The name literally means “(the) People's Ting”—that is, the people's governing assembly.

History

From 1849 to 1953 the Folketing was one of the two houses in the bicameral parliament known as the Rigsdag; the other house was known as the Landsting. Since both houses, in principle, had equal power, the terms "upper house" and "lower house" were not used. The difference between the houses was voter representation.

The Folketing was elected by common vote and consisted mainly of independent farmers, traders and merchants as well as the educated classes (i.e. the liberal forces of society). From 1866 to 1915 the right of vote for the Landsting was restricted to the wealthiest, and some of its members were even appointed by the king, thus it predominantly represented the old aristocracy and other conservatives. From 1915 the Landsting was also elected by common vote, although indirectly and with a higher age limit than for the Folketing. During the next decades, law making mainly took place in the Folketing and the Landsting came to be regarded as a superfluous rubber stamp.

In 1953 the people by popular vote adopted a revised constitution. Among the changes was the elimination of the Landsting and the introduction of a unicameral parliament, known only as the Folketing. Christiansborg Palace has been the domicile of parliament since 1849. The palace is located in the heart of Copenhagen.

Last election results

Following the election, Gitte Seeberg has left New Alliance and Pia Christmas-Møller has left the Conservatives, and both are now represented in parliament outside of political parties. Malou Aamund has left New Alliance and is now representing the party Venstre. Jørgen Poulsen was excluded from the New Alliance Party in June 2008 and is now represented in parliament outside of political parties. From September 1, 2008, Gitte Seeberg leaves her seat in the Folketing in favour of being the secretary general in WWF Denmark (World Wide Fund for Nature). The substitute, Villum Christensen (Ny Alliance), is taking over her seat, because Gitte Seeberg originally was elected as a part of the New Alliance Party.

Constitutional requirements

  • The Folketing consists of 179 members all elected for a four-year term or until the Prime Minister (via the Queen-in-council) calls for elections, whichever comes first. Greenland and the Faroe Islands each elect 2 members separately.
  • Members are elected in accordance with the principle of proportional majority.
  • The Constitution requires for "equal representation of the various opinions of the electorate", and for regional representation to be secured. The electoral act stipulates the details for this: 135 seats are elected by proportional representation in 17 districts, and 40 supplementary seats are allotted to make out for the difference between district and nation-wide vote.
  • The result is proportional representation; however, in rare cases, the biggest parties may gain one or two seats extra from smaller parties.
  • The voter may vote for a party list, one of the candidates on a party list, or an independent candidate.
  • Parties (usually district party assemblies) decide on the nomination of candidates before the election. When co-nomination is assigned, candidates are elected according to personal votes. When priority order is assigned, only an extreme number of personal votes can change the rank.
  • Parties must either pass the threshold, 2% of the national vote, or gain a district seat to gain any supplemental seats. Though possible, it is very rare for a party to gain a district seat without getting 2% of the national vote.
  • To contest an election, parties which are not currently represented in Parliament must collect certificates of support from ca. 20,000 voters (the number of valid votes cast in Denmark proper at the previous election divided by 175, the equivalent of one seat) and have these individually stamped by the registration offices in these voters' municipalities of residence.
  • Denmark has universal suffrage for all citizens over 18 years who live in the realm and who have not been declared incapable of managing their own affairs. The constitution makes it possible to restrict suffrage for convicted criminals and people receiving social benefits, but this option has not been used for several decades.
  • All voters who have not been convicted of criminal acts, making them unworthy for a seat in the parliament, are eligible. The Folketing decides if a member is eligible or not (after his election).
  • The constitution does not mention political parties at all, although the electoral act does, and MPs are virtually always elected for a party. The only independent who has been elected in modern times is the comedian Jacob Haugaard, but independents, usually unknown ones, are seen at every election. Requirements for standing as an independent candidate are much smaller than for a new party, but independents are only allowed to contest in a single district, making it very difficult to gain the needed number of votes for a seat.
  • Members enjoy immunity, meaning that no criminal charges may be brought against an MP, unless he is caught red-handed, provided that the Folketing doesn't lift the immunity. The purpose of this is to prevent political persecution. In practice, the Folketing has always lifted the immunity when a member has been accused of a crime, usually with the consent of the accused member himself.
  • Debates can be conducted behind closed doors, although this hasn't happened since 9 April 1940, day of the German invasion in WW II.
  • Ministers may hold a seat in parliament, but they don't need to. Supreme Court judges — according to convention — may not hold a seat whilst also acting as judges.
  • Ministers may — even if they are not MPs — demand talking time whenever they want.
  • Bills may be brought before parliament by members (private bills) and ministers. Bills are predominantly brought before parliament by ministers, since they have the Law Office of the Ministry of Justice at their disposal. Instead of putting forward a private bill, the opposition usually put forward a proposal for parliamentary decision, i.e. a short resolution which addresses the subject and directs the relevant minister to propose a bill concerning it.

List of Speakers of the Folketing

From To Speaker of the Folketing Years of living
30 January 1850 3 August 1852 Carl Christoffer Georg Andræ, NL 1812-1893
4 October 1852 12 June 1853 Johan Nicolai Madvig, NL 1804-1886
13 June 1853 2 December 1859 Carl Edvard Rotwitt, BV 1812-1860
3 December 1859 2 December 1870 Laurids Nørgaard Bregendahl, NL 1811-1872
3 December 1870 30 September 1883 Christopher Krabbe, V 1833-1913
1 October 1883 2 October 1887 Christen Berg, V 1829-1891
3 October 1887 16 December 1894 Sofus Høgsbro, V 1822-1902
17 December 1894 16 April 1895 Rasmus Claussen, V 1835-1905
17 April 1895 4 October 1901 Sofus Høgsbro, V 1822-1902
5 October 1901 30 January 1905 Herman Trier, V 1845-1925
31 January 1905 14 March 1912 Anders Thomsen, V 1842-1920
15 March 1912 13 June 1913 Jens Christian Christensen, V 1856-1930
14 June 1913 29 March 1922 Niels Pedersen-Nyskov, V 1850-1922
7 April 1922 10 April 1924 Jørgen Jensen-Klejs, V 1863-1947
30 April 1924 24 November 1932 Hans Peter Hansen, S 1872-1953
30 November 1932 1 May 1933 Gerhard Nielsen, S 1871-1933
9 May 1933 30 October 1945 Hans Rasmussen, S 1873-1949
22 November 1945 22 February 1950 Julius Bomholt, S 1896-1969
23 February 1950 22 September 1964 Gustav Pedersen, S 1893-1975
6 October 1964 22 January 1968 Julius Bomholt, S 1896-1969
6 February 1968 30 September 1978 Karl Skytte, B 1908-1986
3 October 1978 8 December 1981 Knud Børge Andersen, S 1914-1984
22 December 1981 10 January 1989 Svend Jakobsen, S b. 1935
10 January 1989 3 October 1989 Erik Ninn-Hansen, C b. 1922
3 October 1989 15 January 1993 H. P. Clausen, C 1928-1998
27 January 1993 5 October 1994 Henning Rasmussen, S 1926-1997
5 October 1994 11 March 1998 Erling Olsen, S b. 1927
26 March 1998 11 March 2003 Ivar Hansen, V 1938-2003
18 March 2003 13 November 2007 Christian Mejdahl, V b. 1939
28 November 2007 Incumbent Thor Pedersen, V b. 1945
References:

See also

Notes

References

External links

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