This man is running the country

With several of his ministerial colleagues on holiday, Henrik Dam Kristensen becomes acting prime minister, justice minister and minister for European affairs

This is peak holiday season, even for the nation's political leaders. And while the ministers are away in exotic locations, someone's got to run Denmark. And for this week at least, that someone is Henrik Dam Kristensen.


Kristensen (Socialdemokraterne) is the acting prime minister while his party cohort Helle Thorning-Schmidt is on holiday abroad. He is also the acting justice minister and the minister for European affairs. Next week, he'll be the acting defence minister. 


All of that while maintaining his role as the transport minister. 


"There's not that much hocus-pocus to it," Kristensen told BT tabloid. "I think mostly it is just because I'm one of the ministers who are here at home."


So just who is this guy that's currently holding Denmark's reins?


Kristensen is a 56-year-old from the mid-Jutland town of Vorbasse. He is the son of a journeyman blacksmith and a business owner. From 1978 to 1986, Kristensen was a mailman. He then spent two years working for the refugee organisation Dansk Flygtningehjælp before spending another two years working as a headmaster in Grindsted. 


In 1990, Kristensen was elected to parliament where he served as an MP until 2004. He then spent two years as a member of the European Parliament before coming back to Christiansborg as an MP in 2007. In addition to his current permanent position as the transport minister, Kristensen has also been Denmark's social affairs minister and agriculture minister. 


Now that he has all of these other duties, what does that change for Kristensen? Not so much, he told BT. 


"It's not like I go in and out of all the different ministerial offices with a different hat on all day," he said. "Mostly the other ministers' secretaries co-ordinate with the secretary in my office if there is anything that needs signed."


And besides, he said, there's not exactly a lot to contend with in mid-July.


"Here during the summer holiday it's very calm, so it's not that complicated," he said.