Traditions were out in force today as Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne) ushered in the new parliamentary season by pledging to focus on securing Denmark a brighter future by improving education, helping those in need, creating jobs and meeting the challenge of integration.
The first Tuesday of October has traditionally signalled the beginning of the political year in Denmark, and the red carpet was unfurled for the occasion. The Royal Family arrived in separate cars in order of rank, with Queen Margrethe arriving last with Prince Henrik in their 1958 Rolls Royce.
Thorning-Schmidt was perhaps signalling a path to a bright future by wearing a long, white dress, and her speech complimented it nicely by focussing on guiding Denmark out of the crisis it has been mired in since 2008.
“We must bring Denmark safely out of the crisis. That has been the government’s most important duty since our tenure began a year ago, and it continues to be,” Thorning-Schmidt opened.
Thorning-Schmidt said that the insecure future currently faced by many families will be met with an urgent package that will help those on unemployment benefits, but she was adamant that the best course of action lay within creating jobs through the construction and renovation of buildings and playgrounds and an energy plan designed to replace coal-burning energy with greener alternatives.
“It pays to act. I am convinced that the societies that best weather the crisis are the ones that act. The societies that manage to make the right and timely decisions, but not necessarily the popular decisions,” Thorning-Schmidt said.
She then proceeded to shift the focus to education and the nation's youth, conveying the importance of students to get through their studies as quickly as possible in order to accommodate the more than 60,000 students who began their education this autumn.
Thorning-Schmidt also pledged that all allegations of child abuse must be evaluated within 24 hours. There will also be tougher requirements for institutions and foster families.
“We will assemble our expertise and provide a better focus and a stronger professional competency,” Thorning-Schmidt contended.
The PM promised to better healthcare with the implementation of a new guarantee that she said will result in maximum treatment waiting times of two months and a diagnosis within 30 days.
Thorning-Schmidt's opening speech also touched on a stronger police presence, the challenge of parallel societies, clean water, tax reductions for businesses, the climate, EU relations, aid in Afghanistan and the need for teachers to spend more time with their students.