Denmark

   

Quality of Democracy

#4
Key Findings
With free and fair electoral procedures, Denmark falls into the top ranks internationally (rank 4) in the area of democracy quality. Its score in this area is unchanged relative to its 2014 level.

Parties receive public support, but private contributions lack transparency. A large party was recently cited for using EU funds for domestic political activities. Referendums are used primarily for EU-related issues. A “citizens’ proposal” model requires that law proposals gaining the support of 50,000 voters be debated by parliament.

The media are independent, with a high degree of pluralism. Newspapers’ affiliations with political parties have diminished in recent years. The budget for the public radio service has been cut, and the financing model is shifting from a license-fee to a tax-based system. Adherence to the rule of law is strong. Courts are independent and powerful, and corruption very rare.

Civil rights are widely respected, but a recently passed law bans the wearing of full-face veils. Ethnic and gender-based discrimination is an occasional labor-market concern. Immigration rules have been tightened, drawing criticism from international human-rights organizations, but the new government has begun taking refugees again.

Electoral Processes

#8

How fair are procedures for registering candidates and parties?

10
 9

Legal regulations provide for a fair registration procedure for all elections; candidates and parties are not discriminated against.
 8
 7
 6


A few restrictions on election procedures discriminate against a small number of candidates and parties.
 5
 4
 3


Some unreasonable restrictions on election procedures exist that discriminate against many candidates and parties.
 2
 1

Discriminating registration procedures for elections are widespread and prevent a large number of potential candidates or parties from participating.
Candidacy Procedures
10
The basic rule for candidacy procedures is laid out in section 30 of the Danish constitution: “Any person who is entitled to vote at general (parliamentary) elections shall be eligible for membership of the Folketinget, unless he has been convicted of an act which in the eyes of the public makes him unworthy to be a member of the Folketinget.” It is the unicameral parliament (Folketinget) itself, which, in the end, decides whether a conviction makes someone unworthy of membership. In practice, political parties play an important role in selecting candidates for elections. It is possible to run in an election in a personal capacity, but extremely difficult to be elected that way. Given the relatively high number of political parties, it is reasonably easy to become a candidate for a party. There is also the possibility of forming a new party. New parties have to collect a number of signatures to be able to run, corresponding to 1/175 of the number of votes cast at the last election.

Citations:
The Constitutional Act of Denmark of June 5, 1953, http://www.eu-oplysningen.dk/upload/application/pdf/0172b719/Constitution%20of%20Denmark.pdf (accessed 15 April 2013).

Henrik Zahle, Dansk forfatningsret I: Institutioner og regulering. Copenhagen: Christian Ejlers‟ Forlag, 2005.

Jørgen Grønnegård Christensen og Jørgen Elklit (eds.) Det demokratiske system. 4. udgave. Hans Reitzels Forlag, 2016.

To what extent do candidates and parties have fair access to the media and other means of communication?

10
 9

All candidates and parties have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. All major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of the range of different political positions.
 8
 7
 6


Candidates and parties have largely equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. The major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of different political positions.
 5
 4
 3


Candidates and parties often do not have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. While the major media outlets represent a partisan political bias, the media system as a whole provides fair coverage of different political positions.
 2
 1

Candidates and parties lack equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communications. The major media outlets are biased in favor of certain political groups or views and discriminate against others.
Media Access
9
Denmark is a liberal democracy. According to section 77 of the constitution, freedom of speech is protected: “Any person shall be at liberty to publish his ideas in print, in writing, and in speech, subject to his being held responsible in a court of law. Censorship and other preventive measures shall never again be introduced.” Freedom of speech includes freedom of the press. Denmark ranks 5 out of 180 countries in the Press Freedom Index for 2019.

The penal code sets three limits to freedom of speech: libel, blasphemy and racism. The independent courts interpret the limits of these exceptions.

The public media (Denmark’s Radio and TV2) have to fulfill programming criteria of diversity and fairness. All political parties that plan to take part in elections, have the right to equal programming time on the radio and on television. Private media, mostly newspapers, tend also to be open to all parties and candidates. The trend decline in newspapers has implied a concentration on a few national newspapers, which has reduced media pluralism. However, all newspapers are, for instance, open to accepting and publishing letters to the editor. Likewise, all parties and candidates have equal possibilities of distributing pamphlets and posters. Finances can be a limiting factor, however, with the larger parties having more money for campaigns than smaller parties.

Citations:
Straffeloven [The Penal Code], http://www.themis.dk/synopsis/docs/Lovsamling/Straffeloven_indholdsfortegnelse.html (accessed 15 April 2013).

Reporters Without Borders, “Press Freedom Index 2019.” https://rsf.org/en/denmark (Accessed 1 December 2019)

Zahle Henrik, 2001, Dansk Forfatningsret 1.

To what extent do all citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right of participation in national elections?

10
 9

All adult citizens can participate in national elections. All eligible voters are registered if they wish to be. There are no discriminations observable in the exercise of the right to vote. There are no disincentives to voting.
 8
 7
 6


The procedures for the registration of voters and voting are for the most part effective, impartial and nondiscriminatory. Citizens can appeal to courts if they feel being discriminated. Disincentives to voting generally do not constitute genuine obstacles.
 5
 4
 3


While the procedures for the registration of voters and voting are de jure non-discriminatory, isolated cases of discrimination occur in practice. For some citizens, disincentives to voting constitute significant obstacles.
 2
 1

The procedures for the registration of voters or voting have systemic discriminatory effects. De facto, a substantial number of adult citizens are excluded from national elections.
Voting and Registration Rights
9
According to section 29 of the Danish constitution, “Any Danish subject who is permanently domiciled in the Realm, and who has the age qualification for suffrage as provided for in sub-section (2) of this section shall have the right to vote at Folketing elections, provided that he has not been declared incapable of conducting his own affairs.”
According to section 31 of the Danish constitution, “The members of the Folketinget shall be elected by general and direct ballot.”
More specific rules are laid down in the election act. The election act stipulates that “franchise for the Folketinget is held by every person of Danish nationality, who is above 18 years of age, and permanently resident in the realm, unless such person has been declared legally incompetent.” The rule on legal competence applies to the Folketing (section 29 of the constitution), but – according to a parliament decision in 2016 – not to local, regional or European Parliament elections. Any person above the age of 18 (since 1978) and “permanently resident in the realm” is entitled to vote.

Citations:
Folketinget, Parliamentary Election Act of Denmark, http://www.ft.dk/~/media/Pdf_materiale/Pdf_publikationer/English/valgloven_eng_web_samlet%20pdf.ashx (accessed 16 April 2013).
Zahle, Dansk forfatningsret 1.
“Umyndige udviklingshæmmede kan ikke sådan lige få stemmeret til folketingsvalg,” https://www.mm.dk/tjekdet/artikel/umyndige-udviklingshaemmede-kan-ikke-saadan-lige-faa-stemmeret-til-folketingsvalg (accessed 7 November 2018).
“2.000 danskere er frataget stemmeret.”https://politiken.dk/indland/art5793960/2.000-danskere-er-frataget-stemmeret (Accessed 7 November 2018).

To what extent is private and public party financing and electoral campaign financing transparent, effectively monitored and in case of infringement of rules subject to proportionate and dissuasive sanction?

10
 9

The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring to that respect. Effective measures to prevent evasion are effectively in place and infringements subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
 8
 7
 6


The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring. Although infringements are subject to proportionate sanctions, some, although few, loopholes and options for circumvention still exist.
 5
 4
 3


The state provides that donations to political parties shall be published. Party financing is subject to some degree of independent monitoring but monitoring either proves regularly ineffective or proportionate sanctions in case of infringement do not follow.
 2
 1

The rules for party and campaign financing do not effectively enforce the obligation to make the donations public. Party and campaign financing is neither monitored independently nor, in case of infringements, subject to proportionate sanctions.
Party Financing
8
Political parties are financed by membership fees, support from other organizations/corporations and state subsidies. Traditionally, the Social Democratic Party has received support from the labor movement and the Conservative Party and Liberal Party have received support from employers’ organizations. A law enacted in 1990 made such contributions voluntary, implying that members of these organizations who do not want their membership fees used to support political parties can opt out.

Private sources that contribute more than DKK 20,000 should be made public, although the amount donated can remain confidential. It is possible to circumvent this requirement by making multiple donations below the threshold limit to local political party branches. There are also examples of other indirect ways of supporting parties. The Danish branch of Transparency International has criticized these rules for failing to achieve sufficient transparent.

Public support for political parties is becoming more important. The party groups in the parliament (Folketinget) receive financial support (recently increased) for their legislative work, including staff costs. Further, the parties receive electoral support depending on the number of votes won.

There is an ongoing case regarding the possible use of EU money to fund political activities in Denmark unrelated to the European Union by the Danish People’s Party. An investigation conducted by OLAF, the European Commission’s Anti-Fraud Office, concluded in October 2019 that €583,047 should be paid back. Since OLAF has no power to prosecute, the case was sent to the Danish State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime, which has now started its investigation.

Citations:
Partistøtte på grundlag af deltagelse i seneste folketingsvalg, http://valg.sim.dk/Valg/Partistoette/Folketingsvalg.aspx(Accessed 8 October 2015).

Transparency International Danmark, “Privat Partistøtte,” http://transparency.dk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Policy-Paper_Privat-partist%C3%B8tte_elektronisk-version.pdf (accessed 20 October 2014).

Zahle, Dansk forfatningsret 1, pp. 159-160.

“EU’s svindeljægere overdragerDF-sag til Bagmandspolitiet,” https://www.msn.com/da-dk/nyheder/krimi/eu-svindeljægere-overdrager-eu-sag-med-df-til-bagmandspoliti/ar-AAIReWw (accessed 17 October 2019).

Do citizens have the opportunity to take binding political decisions when they want to do so?

10
 9

Citizens have the effective opportunity to actively propose and take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through popular initiatives and referendums. The set of eligible issues is extensive, and includes national, regional, and local issues.
 8
 7
 6


Citizens have the effective opportunity to take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through either popular initiatives or referendums. The set of eligible issues covers at least two levels of government.
 5
 4
 3


Citizens have the effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure. The set of eligible issues is limited to one level of government.
 2
 1

Citizens have no effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure.
Popular Decision-Making
5
According to the constitution, one-third of the members of the Folketing can request that an adopted bill be sent to a referendum. A majority of those voting, representing not less than 30% of the electorate, can reject the bill. There are some bills that are exempt from referendums, including those on finance, appropriation, civil servants, salaries and pensions, naturalization, expropriation and taxation. There are no provisions in the constitution for regional or communal referendums, such referendums can only be consultative.

The constitution allows for the delegation of powers to international authorities provided such a move is supported by a five-sixth majority in the parliament. If there is an ordinary majority in the parliament, but less than five-sixth, the bill must be submitted to the electorate. For rejection, a majority of voters, representing at least 30% of the electorate, must reject the measure.

According to constitution, changing the qualifying age for suffrage also requires a referendum. Since 1978, the voting age has been 18.

A change in the constitution itself requires confirmation by a referendum. First, such an amendment must be passed by two parliaments with an election in between. Then it must be confirmed by a majority of the voters representing at least 40% of the electorate. This very stringent procedure makes it difficult to change the constitution.

The use of referendums in Denmark is mostly for EU-related decisions, including membership in the European Communities (1972) and subsequent for treaty reforms. In the latest referendum on justice and home affairs cooperation within the European Union (2015), a majority voted “no.” The use of referendums is controversial. Many have questioned whether referendums are a vote on the question in case, or a public vote of confidence in the government or state of the national economy.

There are no provisions in the Danish constitution for popular initiatives, but by law a “citizens’ proposal” has recently been introduced. If a proposal for a law secures the support of 50,000 voters, the proposal must be debated by the parliament. Though the parliament remains free to reject the proposal (Law of 26 December 2017).

Citations:
The Danish Constitutional Act of June 5, 1953, http://www.eu-oplysningen.dk/upload/application/pdf/0172b719/Constitution%20of%20Denmark.pdf (accessed 26 April 2013).
Peter Germer, Statsforfatningsret. 5. udgave. Copenhagen: Jurist- og Økonomforbundets Forlag, 2012.
Palle Svensson, “Denmark: the Referendum as Minority Protection,” http://www.folkestyre.dk/english/White%20Papers/SVENSSON1.htm (accessed 26 April 2013).
Finn Laursen, “Denmark and the Ratification of the Lisbon Treaty: How a Referendum was Avoided,” in Finn Laursen, ed., The Making of the Lisbon Traty: The Role of Member States. Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2012, pp. 237-258.
“Om borgerforslag,” https://www.borgerforslag.dk/om-borgerforslag/ (Accessed 7 November 2018).

Access to Information

#6

To what extent are the media independent from government?

10
 9

Public and private media are independent from government influence; their independence is institutionally protected and fully respected by the incumbent government.
 8
 7
 6


The incumbent government largely respects the independence of media. However, there are occasional attempts to exert influence.
 5
 4
 3


The incumbent government seeks to ensure its political objectives indirectly by influencing the personnel policies, organizational framework or financial resources of public media, and/or the licensing regime/market access for private media.
 2
 1

Major media outlets are frequently influenced by the incumbent government promoting its partisan political objectives. To ensure pro-government media reporting, governmental actors exert direct political pressure and violate existing rules of media regulation or change them to benefit their interests.
Media Freedom
9
Press freedom is protected by section 77 of the Danish constitution, with certain restrictions concerning libel, blasphemy and racism. Denmark’s radio and privately run TV2 are governed by independent boards appointed by the minister of culture, the parliament (Folketinget) and employees. No members of parliament are allowed to be board members and legislation endeavors to assure that programs are impartial and diverse. There have been a few incidents in which board members have tried to influence specific programs or decisions taken by the management board of Denmark’s Radio. State-run media have so far been financed by an annual license fee. The budget has recently been cut by 20% and the financing model is being changed to tax-based funding. Emphasis is on public service: providing a diverse supply of Danish, trustworthy quality content, which supports Danish democracy, language and culture. At a time when immigration is a sensitive political issue, it is worth noting that the agreement also mentions Denmark’s Christian cultural heritage. Some of the provisions in the agreement are rather specific, leading some critics to suggest that politicians are interfering too much with a politically independent institution. The same government also announced that TV2 should be fully privatized. Licenses for radio stations have been contested and the recent closure of the channel 24/7 has increased debate.

Private media, especially newspapers, used to have party affiliations, but such affiliations have lessened in recent years. The print media is VAT exempt and also receives other forms of government support. Freedom House describes private media in Denmark as “vibrant.” Though Denmark’s score has been affected by various events, such as a Danish newspaper’s publication of a cartoon depiction of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 2005, and the murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall by the inventor Peter Madsen in 2017.

Citations:
Reporters Without Borders, “Press Freedom Index 2018.” https://rsf.org/en/denmark (Accessed 24 September 2018).

Zahle, Dansk forfatningsret 3: Menneskerettigheder. Copenhagen: Christian Ejlers’ Forlag, 2007.

“Mediaaftale for 2019-2023,” https://kum.dk/fileadmin/KUM/Documents/Nyheder%20og%20Presse/Pressemeddelelser/2018/Medieaftale_2019-2023.pdf (Accessed 25 September 2018)

To what extent are the media characterized by an ownership structure that ensures a pluralism of opinions?

10
 9

Diversified ownership structures characterize both the electronic and print media market, providing a well-balanced pluralism of opinions. Effective anti-monopoly policies and impartial, open public media guarantee a pluralism of opinions.
 8
 7
 6


Diversified ownership structures prevail in the electronic and print media market. Public media compensate for deficiencies or biases in private media reporting by representing a wider range of opinions.
 5
 4
 3


Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize either the electronic or the print media market. Important opinions are represented but there are no or only weak institutional guarantees against the predominance of certain opinions.
 2
 1

Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize both the electronic and the print media market. Few companies dominate the media, most programs are biased, and there is evidence that certain opinions are not published or are marginalized.
Media Pluralism
9
There are currently about 35 daily newspapers in Denmark. This includes six daily (Politiken, Jyllands-Posten, Berlingske, Børsen, Kristeligt Dagblad and Information), two main tabloids (BT and Ekstra Bladet) and several smaller regional newspapers, as well as an increasing number of online news sites. Most private publications tend to be conservative or liberal in political philosophy. Left-wing views tend to be underrepresented in editorial pages, but in straight news reporting most newspapers tend to deliver fairly wide-ranging and diverse coverage. The main newspapers regularly include letters to the editor that do not reflect the paper’s own views. So, in practice, there is a high degree of pluralism of opinions in Danish newspapers. A vibrant civil society contributes to this. Today Jyllands-Posten (right-wing/liberal) and Politiken (social democratic/liberal) are run by the same publishing house, but with independent editorial policies and owned by separate foundations. Only one local paper, Skive Folkeblad, is owned by a party, the Social Liberal Party.

The public media (mostly radio and TV) are independent and have editorial freedom. Satellite and cable TV are increasingly creating more competition for public media. In addition, a number of local oriented radio channels exist. Internet access is widespread and not restricted. Denmark ranks among the top five countries in the world in respect to households having internet access.

All newspapers are active on the internet and are moving more toward paid content. Danes increasingly get their information digitally via social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. The readership of print media has declined substantially in recent years. But traditional print media and TV still play an important role in public debate.

Citations:
“Media Landscape – Denmark,” http://ejc.net/media_landscapes/denmark (accessed 10 October 2015).
“The media landscape in Denmark,” http://www.eurotopics.net/en/home/medienlandschaft/dkmdlschaft/ (accessed 20 October 2014).
“Media Landscape Denmark. Update May 2017,” http://www.mediabrands.dk/job/Media_Landscape_Denmark_2017_update_May.pdf (Accessed 25 September 2018).
“Denmark Newspapers,” http://www.allnewsmedia.com/Europe/Denmark/newspapers.htm (accessed 16 April 2013).
“Media Insights,” http://frontpage.dk/en/medie-insights/ (Accessed 16 October 2017).

To what extent can citizens obtain official information?

10
 9

Legal regulations guarantee free and easy access to official information, contain few, reasonable restrictions, and there are effective mechanisms of appeal and oversight enabling citizens to access information.
 8
 7
 6


Access to official information is regulated by law. Most restrictions are justified, but access is sometimes complicated by bureaucratic procedures. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms permit citizens to enforce their right of access.
 5
 4
 3


Access to official information is partially regulated by law, but complicated by bureaucratic procedures and some poorly justified restrictions. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms are often ineffective.
 2
 1

Access to official information is not regulated by law; there are many restrictions of access, bureaucratic procedures and no or ineffective mechanisms of enforcement.
Access to Government Information
9
The Access to Public Administration Files Act (1985) stipulates that, “any person may demand that he be apprised of documents received or issued by an administration authority in the course of its activity.” Exemptions to this framework include, among other matters of criminal justice, access to an authority’s internal case material, and material gathering for the purpose of public statistics or scientific research. The law further describes files that “may be subject to limitations,” related to state security, defense of the realm, protection of Danish foreign policy and Danish external economic interests. This list is rather detailed and open-ended. The act stipulates that requests must be dealt with quickly. If no decision has been made within 10 days, authorities must inform inquiring parties as to why their request has been delayed and when they can expect a decision.

The revised Access to Public Administration Act 2014, approved by a broad majority in parliament, has been criticized for reducing access to documents prepared by government officials in the process of preparing new government policy.

The parliamentary ombudsman can review the decisions by administrative authorities over the disclosure of information. The ombudsman cannot change decisions, but can make recommendations, which are normally followed by the authorities.

Citations:
Act No. 572, 19 December 1985, The Danish Access to Public Administration Files Act, http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/pp/compliance/C2008-28/response/DKAccessToPublicAdministrationFilesAct.pdf (accessed 16 April 2013).

“Danish Government Seeks to protect decision documents,” http://www.freedominfo.org/2013/02/danish-government-seeks-to-protect-decision-documents/ (Accessed 16 April 2013).

“Danish Parliament Adopts Controversial FOI Changes,” http://www.freedominfo.org/2013/06/danish-parliament-adopts-controversial-foi-changes/ (accessed 20 October 2014).

Helle Krunke, “Freedom of Information and Open Government in Denmark,” http://ojs.imodev.org/index.php/RIGO/article/view/9/70 (Accessed 16 October 2017).

“12 European Countries Sign First International Convention on Access to Official Documents, 19 June 2009,”
http://www.freedominfo.org/2009/06/12-european-countries-sign-first-international-convention-on-access-to-official-documents/ (accessed 16 April 2013).

Civil Rights and Political Liberties

#6

To what extent does the state respect and protect civil rights and how effectively are citizens protected by courts against infringements of their rights?

10
 9

All state institutions respect and effectively protect civil rights. Citizens are effectively protected by courts against infringements of their rights. Infringements present an extreme exception.
 8
 7
 6


The state respects and protects rights, with few infringements. Courts provide protection.
 5
 4
 3


Despite formal protection, frequent infringements of civil rights occur and court protection often proves ineffective.
 2
 1

State institutions respect civil rights only formally, and civil rights are frequently violated. Court protection is not effective.
Civil Rights
9
Civil rights are protected by the Danish constitution, including personal liberty, inviolability of property, inviolability of dwellings, freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of assembly. The authorities and courts normally protect these freedoms.

Denmark ratified the European Convention on Human Rights in 1953. Since 1976, Denmark has had a number of cases at the European Court of Human Rights. Denmark lost some cases, especially concerning freedom of association and concerning unnecessarily lengthy case proceedings. These cases indicate Denmark could do better when it comes to protection of civil rights.

The Danish Institute for Human Rights issues an annual report with detailed accounts of the human rights situation in Denmark and recommendations for the government. Some recommendations concern the rights of immigrants and asylum-seekers. These matters have also led to criticism from Amnesty International.

It is being contested whether recent changes in relation to asylum-seekers, including rules for family reunification, violate the Geneva Convention. There has also been debate in Denmark about whether the country should start receiving so-called quota refugees again.

A ban on wearing face veils was a relatively controversial measure, which was passed by the parliament.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman concluded that the separation of couples seeking asylum (where one partner is under the age of 18) is a violation of the Danish Act on Public Administration and possibly a violation of the right to family life.

The new Social Democratic government, which came to power in June 2019, decided to start receiving quota refugees again.

The new government is also initiating an investigation into whether, under the former minister of immigration, Inger Støjberg, there was any wrongdoing in relation to the separation of young couples seeking asylum.

Citations:
Henrik Zahle, Dansk forfatningsret 3: Menneskerettigheder. Copenhagen: Cristian Ejlers’ Forlag, 2007.

Institut for menneskerettigheder, “Danske sager,” http://menneskeret.dk/menneskerettigheder/europa,+oplysning+og+rettigheder/europar%C3%A5det/den+europ%C3%A6iske+menneskerettighedsdomstol/danske+sager (accessed 15 April 2013).

European Court of Human Rights, “Case of Christensen v. Denmark,” http://menneskeret.dk/files/DoekerPDF/Case%20of%20Christensen%20v.%20Denmark.pdf (accessed 15 April 2013).

Danish Institute for Human Rights, Human Rights in Denmark: Status 2014-15. A Summary. http://www.humanrights.dk/files/media/dokumenter/udgivelser/status/status_uk_2015.pdf (accessed 7 October 2015).

Amnesty International, Denmark 2017/2018. https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/europe-and-central-asia/denmark/report-denmark/ (Accessed 3 October 2018).

Regering og støttepartier laver Støjberg-kommission. https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/politik/regering-og-stoettepartier-laver-stoejberg-kommission (Accessed 17 October 2019).

To what extent does the state concede and protect political liberties?

10
 9

All state institutions concede and effectively protect political liberties.
 8
 7
 6


All state institutions for the most part concede and protect political liberties. There are only few infringements.
 5
 4
 3


State institutions concede political liberties but infringements occur regularly in practice.
 2
 1

Political liberties are unsatisfactory codified and frequently violated.
Political Liberties
9
The Danish constitution protects the political rights and liberties, including freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of assembly. Elections are free. The government is accountable to the elected parliament.

Freedom House usually gives Denmark top scores for civil liberties and political rights. Problems in Denmark mostly concern ethnic tensions, especially involving the country’s Muslim population, and alleged abuse of power by the police.

Recent human rights reports from Amnesty International include critiques concerning the treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers, such as the return of asylum-seekers, individual cases of denied asylum, the “management of asylum cases which fails to insure the best interests of the child, and the detention of asylum-seekers and vulnerable persons while awaiting deportation.”

The 2015 – 2016 report from Amnesty International mentioned a recent judgment by the Eastern High Court that the police had unlawfully removed and detained protesters during an official state visit by Chinese officials in 2012. A new investigation of this case has been started, as new information has become available.

Citations:
Amnesty International Annual Report: Denmark 2016/2017, https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/europe-and-central-asia/denmark/report-denmark/

Amnesty International, Denmark 2017/2018, https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/europe-and-central-asia/denmark/report-denmark/ (Accessed 3 October 2018)

Amnesty International, Denmark: Human Rights in Review: 2011-2015. https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur18/2332/2015/en/ (accessed 8 October 2015).

How effectively does the state protect against different forms of discrimination?

10
 9

State institutions effectively protect against and actively prevent discrimination. Cases of discrimination are extremely rare.
 8
 7
 6


State anti-discrimination protections are moderately successful. Few cases of discrimination are observed.
 5
 4
 3


State anti-discrimination efforts show limited success. Many cases of discrimination can be observed.
 2
 1

The state does not offer effective protection against discrimination. Discrimination is widespread in the public sector and in society.
Non-discrimination
8
Denmark is traditionally an open and liberal society, and has been at the forefront in ensuring the rights of sexual minorities, for example. Basic rights are ensured in the constitution and supplemented with additional laws focused on specific areas, including ethnicity and the labor market. Citizens can file complaints concerning issues of discrimination to the Board of Equal Treatment or opt to bring discrimination cases before the courts.

Discrimination can take various forms and can be perceived differently depending on position, history and social context. Gender-based discrimination in the labor market relates primarily to wages, but also, more generally, to hiring and career options. About two-thirds of the observed average gender-wage difference can be explained by individual differences and sectoral employment, but the remaining difference suggests that there is not equal pay for equal work. Rules for parental leave have been expanded to extend the right (and duty) of fathers to take paternity leave and for all employers (since 2006) to contribute to the financing of parental leave schemes.

Frequently cases of discrimination in the labor market are reported in the press, with examples of persons having difficulties in finding a job due to ethnic identifiers, such as the person’s name. Different treatments and options in the labor market can have several causes, and there is no thorough academic analysis that has attempted to separate these causes and evaluate the extent of discrimination in the labor market.

Indirect discrimination can take various forms. A notable area is in terms of rules and regulations, which, on the one hand, are general and apply to all citizens, but on the other hand, effectively target particular groups. One example is the residence requirement for social assistance (which, if not fulfilled, lowers the amount of assistance) offered to immigrants from outside the European Union. While formally treating all immigrants equally, the scheme in particular targets immigrants from low-income countries with a low employment rate.

Immigration laws have been tightened several times since 2001. While previous parliaments were often split on these changes, parliamentary majorities have in recent years supported a tightening of immigration policy. Consequently, the recent shift in the position of the Social Democratic Party is significant. After coming to power in June 2019, the new Social Democratic government has liberalized a few minor aspects of Danish immigration policy. Though family reunions, except in the case of spouses from other EU member states, remain extremely difficult.

Citations:
Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2014 – Denmark, http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2014/denmark-0#.VEa2JOSEi70 (accessed 21 October 2014).

United States Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013 – Denmark, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/#wrapper (accessed 21 October 2014).

Rule of Law

#1

To what extent do government and administration act on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions to provide legal certainty?

10
 9

Government and administration act predictably, on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions. Legal regulations are consistent and transparent, ensuring legal certainty.
 8
 7
 6


Government and administration rarely make unpredictable decisions. Legal regulations are consistent, but leave a large scope of discretion to the government or administration.
 5
 4
 3


Government and administration sometimes make unpredictable decisions that go beyond given legal bases or do not conform to existing legal regulations. Some legal regulations are inconsistent and contradictory.
 2
 1

Government and administration often make unpredictable decisions that lack a legal basis or ignore existing legal regulations. Legal regulations are inconsistent, full of loopholes and contradict each other.
Legal Certainty
9
Denmark has a long tradition of a rule of law. No serious problems can be identified in respect to legal certainty in Denmark. The administration is based on a hierarchy of legal rules, which of course gives administrators certain discretion, but also a range of possibilities for citizens to appeal decisions. Much of the Danish administration is decentralized and interpretation of laws, rules and regulations can vary from one municipality or region to another. Acts passed by the parliament, as well as administrative regulations based on these acts, are all made public. They are now widely available on the internet. Openness and access to information, and various forms of appeal options, contribute to strengthening legal certainty in administration.

Citations:
Henning Jørgensen, Consensus, Cooperation and Conflict: The Policy Making Process in Denmark. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2002.

To what extent do independent courts control whether government and administration act in conformity with the law?

10
 9

Independent courts effectively review executive action and ensure that the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 8
 7
 6


Independent courts usually manage to control whether the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 5
 4
 3


Courts are independent, but often fail to ensure legal compliance.
 2
 1

Courts are biased for or against the incumbent government and lack effective control.
Judicial Review
10
There is judicial review in Denmark. The courts can review executive action. According to the constitution, “The courts of justice shall be empowered to decide on any question relating to the scope of the executive’s authority.” The judiciary is independent even though the government appoints judges, as explained in detail below. Moreover, “in the performance of their duties the judges shall be governed solely by the law. Judges shall not be dismissed except by judgment, nor shall they be transferred against their will, except in such cases where a rearrangement of the courts of justice is made.”

Administrative decisions can normally be appealed to higher administrative bodies first, and after exhaustion of these possibilities, to the courts. The legal system has three levels with the possibility of appealing lower level judgments to high courts and eventually to the Supreme Court.

Citations:
Henrik Zahle, Dansk forfatningsret 2: Regering, forvaltning og dom. Copenhagen: Christian Ejlers’ Forlag, 2004.

To what extent does the process of appointing (supreme or constitutional court) justices guarantee the independence of the judiciary?

10
 9

Justices are appointed in a cooperative appointment process with special majority requirements.
 8
 7
 6


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies with special majority requirements or in a cooperative selection process without special majority requirements.
 5
 4
 3


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies without special majority requirements.
 2
 1

All judges are appointed exclusively by a single body irrespective of other institutions.
Appointment of Justices
10
The Danish constitution (sections 3, 62 and 64) states that “judicial authority shall be vested in the courts of justice … the administration of justice shall always remain independent of executive authority … [and] judges shall be governed solely by the law. Judges shall not be dismissed except by judgment, nor shall they be transferred against their will, except in such cases where a rearrangement of the courts of justice is made.”

The judicial system is organized around a three-tier court system: 24 district courts, two high courts and the Supreme Court. Denmark does not have a special Constitutional Court. The Supreme Court functions as a civil and criminal appellate court for cases from subordinate courts.

The monarch appoints judges following a recommendation from the minister of justice on the advice of the Judicial Appointments Council (since 1999) to broaden the recruitment of judges and enhance transparency. In the case of the Supreme Court, a nominated judge first has to take part in four trial votes, where all Supreme Court judges take part, before he or she can be confirmed as a judge.

Citations:
Henrik Zahle, Dansk forfatningsret 2: Regering, forvaltning og dom. Copenhagen: Christian Ejlers’ Forlag, 2004, p. 88.

“Dommerudnævnelsesrådet,” http://www.domstol.dk/om/organisation/Pages/Dommerudn%C3%A6vnelsesr%C3%A5det.aspx (accessed 17 April 2013).

To what extent are public officeholders prevented from abusing their position for private interests?

10
 9

Legal, political and public integrity mechanisms effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 8
 7
 6


Most integrity mechanisms function effectively and provide disincentives for public officeholders willing to abuse their positions.
 5
 4
 3


Some integrity mechanisms function, but do not effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 2
 1

Public officeholders can exploit their offices for private gain as they see fit without fear of legal consequences or adverse publicity.
Corruption Prevention
10
Denmark is among the least corrupt countries in the world and ranked first in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2018. Norms against corruption are strong and the risk of media exposure is high. In the past, there were occasional cases of a local government official accepting “services” from business in exchange for contracts with the municipality, but such cases are rare. There have also occasionally been cases of officials using their representation accounts rather generously. Again, such cases are rare. A court case in 2017 led to the conviction of several employees of the IT vendor Atea A/S for bribery and embezzlement. The employees had offered electronic devices to government employees, some of whom were convicted for accepting these devices.

Citations:
Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2017, https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2017 (Accessed 3 October 2018).

GAN Business Anti-corruption Portal, “Denmark Corruption Report,” https://www.business-anti-corruption.com/country-profiles/denmark/ (Accessed 3 October 2018).

Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2018. https://www.transparency.org/cpi2018 (Accessed 18 October 2019).
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