Former Copenhagen mayor Ritt Bjerregaard passes at 81

Christian Wenande
January 23rd, 2023

This article is more than 1 year old.

A former MP, Bjerregaard became the youngest woman in Danish history to be named minister back in the 1970s 

Ritt Bjerregaard in 2006 (photo: Flickr/Chrissie Sternschnuppe)

Denmark lost one of its most pioneering politicians to cancer over the weekend.

Ritt Bjerregaard, who served as the mayor of Copenhagen from 2006-2010, passed away at her home in Østerbro surrounded by her loved ones. She was 81.

As a member of Socialdemokratiet, Bjerregaard blazed many trails for women in politics after first becoming an MP back in 1971.

Two years later she became the youngest woman at the time to have ever held a cabinet position when she became education minister. During her political career, she was also social and education minister.

Educated as a teacher, Bjerregaard was noted for the many political showdowns she had with her party leadership, the media and the male-dominated Parliament she encountered at the time.

READ ALSO: Local Elections 2021: Social Democrat among the pigeons – at City Hall, since records began

Stint in Brussels
She also faced trials and tribulations during her tenure, notably the time she was referred to as the ‘champagne socialist’ following revelations she had stayed in the expensive Hotel Ritz in Paris on the taxpayer’s dime.

However, she maintained her prominent position in her party and became the EU Commissioner for the Environment in 1995.

She stepped down from Parliament in 2005 to become mayor of Copenhagen the following year – a position she held until stepping away from politics four years later.

Frank Jensen assumed the mayoral reins after her departure and ran the capital until he was forced to resign in the wake of a #MeToo scandal in 2020.


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