When the culture minister, Bertel Haarder, shows up for work at Parliament today, he will break the record for the longest tenure as a minister in Denmark since the political system changed back in 1901.
Haarder, who has held four ministerial positions since 1982 when he first became the education minister, has been a Danish minister for a total of 7,833 days over the course of his political career – one day more than the former agriculture minister and previous record holder, Kirsten Bording.
“Democracy is not a political regime, but some times somebody has to cut through, and I’ve had that privilege for 22 years in total,” said Harder.
“There are probably some who think it’s more than enough – but think of Fidel Castro, Robert Mugabe and the French Sun King [Louis XIV]. I’m an inconsequential greenhorn compared to them. Or as Grundtvig said: ‘Old age is no crime, when one turns grey with honour.’ So the record … it will be celebrated!”
Many years to go
And celebrated he was. Dignitaries were out in force yesterday at Thorvaldsens Museum to celebrate Haarder, who just turned 72 last month.
And really, Denmark’s political stalwart should have plenty of good years left to further build up his impressive longevity record – Mugabe and Castro are both still going strong in their 90s.