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Denmark - Government

Denmark is a constitutional monarchy. Queen Margrethe II has largely ceremonial functions; probably her most significant formal power lies in her right to appoint the prime minister and cabinet ministers, who are responsible for administration of the government. However, she must consult with parliamentary leaders to determine the public's will, since the cabinet may be dismissed by a vote of no confidence in the Folketing (parliament). Cabinet members are occasionally recruited from outside the Folketing.

The 1953 constitution established a unicameral Folketing of not more than 179 members, of whom two are elected from the Faroe Islands and two from Greenland. Elections are held at least every 4 years, but the prime minister can dissolve the Folketing at any time and call for new elections. Folketing members are elected by a complicated system of proportional representation; any party receiving at least 2% of the total national vote receives representation.

There are three electoral regions in Denmark: Metropolitan Copenhagen, the Islands, and Jutland. 17 multi-member constituencies are divided among these regions. Also, a share of compensatory seats proportional to its population is allocated to each electoral region.

First, constituency seats are allocated to each party in proportion to its share of votes. Parties become eligible for compensatory seats if they meet any of three conditions: winning a constituency seat, winning in two of three regions shares of votes equal to or greater than the number of votes cast per individual seat in each region, or winning two percent of votes nationwide.

Next, compensatory seats are allocated to each party to make its overall vote share effectively equal to its overall seat share. The first step here is allocating compensatory seats to each electoral region. The Sainte-Lague procedure is applied to each party's region-level vote share. Quotients resulting from this procedure that correspond to constituency seats are disregarded. The 40 compensatory seats go to the party-regions with the 40 largest remaining quotients. The second step is allocating these party-region seats to constituencies. A second, similar quotient procedure is applied at the constituency level. Disregarding quotients corresponding to party seats already won in the constituency tier, party-region seats are allocated to parties within constituencies from highest to lowest party-constituency quotient, until all compensatory seats are exhausted.

The end result of these processes is a number of seats to be allocated to each eligible party at the constituency level. The electoral system is open-list proportional representation, but parties may opt to field closed lists.

The Danish system of government is known as negative parliamentarism, which means that the Government may never have a majority against it in the Parliament, but it is not required to have the support of an actual majority. In fact, most Danish governments have been minority governments. Minority governments often consist of several political parties, with one or more parties supporting the Government while not actually forming part of it. In this way, the Government will not have a majority against it in the Parliament.

The judicial branch consists of 22 local courts, two high courts, several special courts (e.g., arbitration and maritime), and a Supreme Court of 15 judges appointed by the crown on the government's recommendation.

Since a structural reform of local government was passed by the Folketing in 2004 and 2005, Denmark has been divided into five regions and 98 municipalities. The regions and municipalities are both led by councils elected every four years, but only the municipal councils have the power to levy taxes. Regional councils are responsible for health services and regional development, while the municipal councils are responsible for day care, elementary schools, care for the elderly, culture, environment, and roads.

The Faroe Islands enjoy home rule and Greenland has expanded "self-rule," with the Danish Government represented locally by high commissioners. These local governments are responsible for most domestic affairs, with foreign relations, monetary affairs, and defense falling to the Danish Government.






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