Thorning-Schmidt stepping down as party leader

The outgoing justice minister, Mette Frederiksen, strongly tipped to replace her

Last night was a big blow for Helle Thorning-Schmidt. She not only lost her post as prime minister, but she also resigned as leader of Socialdemokraterne after ten years in charge.

She announced her resignation on Thursday night at Christiansborg.

“Dear friends. I have decided to resign. Therefore, our party will now have a new president,” she said in an emotional speech to her party colleagues.

“Tonight our joint efforts did not go as far as we had hoped. Socialdemokraterne won the election campaign, but we did not win the election. We were beaten at the finish line,” said the outgoing prime minister.

“Tomorrow I will go to the queen and announce that the government is stepping down. Now it is up to Lars Løkke Rasmussen to try to form a government.”

10 years in charge
Thorning-Schmidt led Socialdemokraterne for a little over 10 years, of which she has been prime minister for almost four.

She began by wanting to “get rid of Anders Fogh Rasmussen”, but failed in 2007.

In 2011, she returned to beat Rasmussen, forming a government with Socialistisk Folkeparti and Radikale and becoming Denmark’s first ever female prime minister.

“I have been leader of our party for over ten years. I have loved every single day, because I love our party. I also love our eternal optimism on behalf of Denmark,” said Thorning-Schmidt, who received resounding applause from fellow party members.

“I have done my best to live up to the trust that you have shown me over the many years. There have been a lot of good days. And there has also been, once in a while, some that are not so good,” she said with a wry smile.

“But I know that I, as your leader, would rather take a bullet too many than too few.”

Wishing Løkke all the best
Thorning-Schmidt sent Rasmussen her best wishes in his future position.

“I know that he also loves Denmark, and he should be happy that he is taking over Denmark in such a good condition,” she said.

The outgoing prime minister received large, supportive applause when she thanked her party colleagues, closest advisers and partners from Radikale. Thorning-Schmidt also sent a special thanks you to the Socialdemokraterne youth party, DSU.

“You all deserve a big hug, for you are all simply amazing,” she said.

Frederiksen expected to succeed her
The party’s heir apparent, the current justice minister, Mette Frederiksen, is expected to be appointed the new Socialdemokraterne leader in the near future.

Bookmaker Danske Spil this morning confirmed to the Copenhagen Post that it would not be offering betting on the next leader because “the odds would be too low” on Frederiksen.

“However, we will shortly be opening a market on what Thorning-Schmidt’s next job will be,” a spokesperson said.

Among the outsiders to become the next Socialdemokraterne leader are Frank Jensen, the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, who ran against Thorning-Schmidt in the 2005 leadership election.