Another Rasmussen takes the reins of power in Denmark

6th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The new Rasmussen, who has until now served as finance minister, appears with his warm smile and stocky build as the polar opposite of the svelte and charming but often austere outgoing government chief, who is no relation.

Copenhagen -- Lars Loekke Rasmussen, who took over as Danish prime minister on Sunday after Anders Fogh Rasmussen resigned to take the reins at NATO, will be the youngest head of government in the Nordic country yet.

The new Rasmussen, who has until now served as finance minister, appears with his warm smile and stocky build as the polar opposite of the svelte and charming but often austere outgoing government chief, who is no relation.

"Spontaneous," "improvising" and "experimental" are some of the words used to describe the 44-year-old, who is renowned for his excellent communication skills and who "speaks the simple and clear language of the man on the street", according to one political commentator.

Lars Loekke Rasmussen took over without election less than 24 hours after his namesake was appointed to his new post at a summit of NATO leaders in Strasbourg on Saturday.

Denmark's new leader comes to power as the Scandinavian country, like much of the rest of the world, undergoes its worst economic crisis since World War II.

Born on May 15, 1964 in the western town of Vejle to an accountant father and stay-at-home mother, Rasmussen studied law before first entering parliament in 1994.

Four years later, he took the top political spot in the eastern Frederiksborg region and also became deputy head of the right-leaning Liberal Party.

When Fogh Rasmussen's centre-right coalition government first came to power in 2001, Loekke Rasmussen set aside his ultra market liberal convictions and served as minister of the interior and of health before becoming finance minister in 2007.

That year, he was also designated the heir-apparent to the prime minister.

An accomplished politician who speaks English and German fluently, the new Rasmussen is a far greater fan of "using the carrot than the stick," observers say.

Having climbed to the top through a web of municipal and regional political positions, Loekke Rasmussen is considered an expert on the inner workings of the Danish welfare state and has said that defending its benefits would be a top priority of his government.

Otherwise, he has indicated he plans to follow much the same line as his predecessor, continuing the government's dependence on the far-right Danish People's Party, whose parliamentary support allowed Fogh Rasmussen to cling to power for more than seven years.

Unlike the outgoing premier, Denmark's new leader however lacks international experience, which could be a significant handicap at a time when Denmark is gearing up to play the role of key mediator at international climate talks in Copenhagen in December.

People in his entourage however insist the married father of three is a fast learner and easily adapts to new situations.

AFP/Expatica

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