Venstre (Denmark)

Venstre (Denmark)
Venstre, Liberal Party of Denmark
Venstre, Danmarks Liberale Parti
Leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen
Founded 1870, total reform in 1910
Headquarters Søllerødvej 30
2840 Holte
Youth wing Venstres Ungdom
Student wing Liberal Students of Denmark
Ideology Conservative liberalism[1]
Nordic agrarianism[2]
Classical liberalism
Political position Centre-right
International affiliation Liberal International
European affiliation European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party
European Parliament Group Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Official colours Blue
47 / 179
European Parliament:
3 / 13
54 / 205
699 / 2,468
Election symbol
Politics of Denmark
Political parties

Venstre[note 1] (Danish pronunciation: [ˈʋɛnsdʁɐ], literally "left"), full name Venstre, Danmarks Liberale Parti (Left, Liberal Party of Denmark), is the largest political party in Denmark. Founded with a basis on pro-free market liberalism, it is the major party on the centre-right of the political spectrum. The party formerly governed in coalition with the Conservative People's Party, with support from the Danish People's Party.

In the 2011 parliamentary elections, Venstre received 26.7% of the vote, and 47 out of 179 seats. It is led by Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who took over as party leader and Prime Minister from Anders Fogh Rasmussen in 2009.

Venstre is a liberal party within the Nordic agrarian tradition, but is notably more pro-free market than its sister parties.[5] Some describe it as classical liberal, since its leader from 1998 to 2009, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is known for his authorship of the book From Social State to Minimal State. His book advocated an extensive reform of the Danish welfare state along classical liberal lines, including lower taxes and less government interference in corporate and individual matters. In later years, Anders Fogh Rasmussen has drifted away from his earlier views and has called liberalism an outdated ideology.[6]

The party is a member of Liberal International and the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party. Three of Denmark's thirteen MEPs are from Venstre, and they sit with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group in the European Parliament.[7]



Venstre 1945 election material ("Venstre has good cards on hand")

Venstre, or "the Left" in English, was founded in 1870 under the name Det Forenede Venstre (The United Left). It was formed through the merger of three parliamentary factions, all of whom had identified as leftist in the context of the time. From 1895-1910 it was known as Venstrereformpartiet (Left Reform Party), and after that as Venstre.

Venstre was traditionally a party advocating free trade and farmers' interests. This traditional landed basis resulted in a relative decline in influence due to the rapidly accelerating urbanisation of Danish society. Starting in the 1880s, the party began expanding into urban regions as well.

By the 1910s, the splitting off of the Social Liberals and the appearance of the Social Democrats had pushed Venstre toward the centre, and it often relied on its former Conservative adversaries for parliamentary support. After the 1960s Venstre was reoriented as a more classical liberal party. During the leadership of Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the party turned further to the right.

List of government participation

  • 1901-1909 (as the Venstre Reform Party)
  • 1910-1913
  • 1920-1924
  • 1926-1929
  • 1945-1947
  • 1950-53 with the Conservative People's Party
  • 1968-71 with the Conservative People's Party and the Danish Social Liberal Party
  • 1973-75
  • 1978-79 with the Social Democratic Party
  • 1982-88 with the Conservative People's Party, Centre Democrats, and the Christian People's Party (junior partner)
  • 1988-90 with the Conservative People's Party and Social Liberal Party (junior partner)
  • 1990-93 with the Conservative People's Party
  • 2001-11 with the Conservative People's Party (senior partner)

Prime Ministers

Leaders since 1929

Origin of the name

The fact that the major liberal political party in a country calls itself 'Left' is often confusing to many foreign (and sometimes Danish) observers. The name has, however, its historical explanation. At the time of its foundation, Venstre affirmed progressive ideas in the then Danish parliament. Their opponents, Højre (Right), was the forerunner of the present Conservative People's Party. In current Danish politics there is a clear distinction between the concepts of Venstre (Left, i.e. the party bearing that name) and venstrefløj (left wing, i.e. socialist and other left-leaning parties). The use of the word for "left" in the name of the Danish political party Radikale Venstre and the Norwegian party Venstre is meant to refer to liberalism and not socialism.

Members of the party are referred to as Venstremænd and Venstrekvinder, respectively "Venstre Men" and "Venstre Women" (singular: -mand / -kvinde).


Tax policy

Since the elections in 2001, Venstre has enacted a so-called "tax stop" in order to halt the growth in taxes seen during the previous eight years under the Social Democrats. This tax stop has been under heavy fire from the parties on the left wing of Danish politics, allegedly for being "asocial" and "only for the rich."

Attempts to control the growth in public expenditures, have however, been less successful than originally hoped by the party. Public spending has continued to increase by approximately 1% above inflation, per year.

In 2004, two small tax cuts went into effect:

First, people with jobs get a 3% tax reduction on the 5% "bottom tax" (Danish: Bundskat). This initiative is supposed to encourage people to go off welfare, and take jobs instead.

Second, the bottom limit of the "middle tax" (Danish: Mellemskat) of 6%, is raised by 12,000 Danish Kroner every year, over the next four 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" (Danish: Topskat) of 15%, and the Value Added Tax (Danish: "Moms") of 25%.

The income tax in Denmark ranges from [9%-44%] for ultra low income families to [44%-62%] progressively for middle class families. 850,000 Danes (31% of everyone employed) pay a marginal income tax of 62% although the overall effective rate will be lower.

Youth and student wings

See also


  1. ^ The party name is officially not translated into any other language, but is in English often referred to as the Liberal Party. Similar rules apply for the name of the party's youth wing Venstres Ungdom.


  1. ^ Thomas, Alistair H. (1988). "Liberalism in Denmark". In Kirchner, Emil Joseph. Liberal Parties in Western Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-52132-394-9. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "AKVA3: Valg til regions råd efter område, parti og stemmer/kandidater/køn". Statistics Denmark. Retrieved 13 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "VALGK3: Valg til kommunale råd efter område, parti og stemmer/kandidater/køn". Statistics Denmark. Retrieved 13 June 2010. 
  5. ^ Esaiasson, Peter; Heidar, Knut (1999). Beyond Westminster and Congress: the Nordic experience. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. p. 377. ISBN 9780814208397. 
  6. ^ Berlingske
  7. ^ "Europavalg". DR. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 


  • Tom Matz (2004), Venstre ved du hvor du har (Danish). ForlagsKompagniet: Nørhaven Book.

External links

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