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Chapter 2. The country

This is an excerpt from the Worktrotter's Guide to Denmark.
The Worktrotter's Guide to Denmark

For your move to Denmark it will help if you know more about the country. This chapter provides an introduction to some important historical, political and social aspects that give a good basis of understanding and context for how things work.

2.1 General

2.1.1 History

What events have occurred in Danish history and how did they shape this country? Unlike the usual history books, I won’t start with the old Vikings. Current events have a bigger influence on our lives in this country than those of centuries ago.
Although the “ghost“ of the financial crisis is hovering over Denmark too, the Danish economy is doing well and this has been the case for quite a while. Many ascribe this booming economy to the concept of Flexicurity (flexibility and security), which was introduced in the 1990s. It allows companies to be flexible from a personnel perspective and increase or reduce the number of employees depending on the economic situation, but not at the cost of their employees who have the security of a solid welfare system. See more information in Section 8.9.
In 2005 and 2008, Denmark made major headlines worldwide with the so-called Mohammed-crisis. The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed, including one as a terrorist. The Muslim world
was outraged and even today Danish products and companies are boycotted in some Muslim countries.
In March 2003, the Danish Parliament decided by a very slim majority to join the war in Iraq and participated with about 500 soldiers. At the end of 2007, the Danish mission was declared complete.
By contrast, there was strong support when Parliament decided in 2001 to take part in the war in Afghanistan. The first Danish contingent had about 300 soldiers, a number that has increased several times to about 600 soldiers at the end 2008.
A referendum in 1992 decided against the introduction of the Euro as Denmark’s currency, despite the fact that Denmark had voted to join the EU in 1973.
Denmark surprised Europe by winning the European Championship in football/soccer in 1992. At first, the Danish team did not qualify to take part, but when the Yugoslavian team was excluded from the Championship due to the Balkan war, Denmark took its place and won despite little preparation. Even today many attribute this success to how laid back Danes are – also when facing big challenges.
Denmark (like many other countries in Europe), was moving towards socialism in the 1960s/1970s. All were to be equal and the welfare state had arrived at its peak. This brought Denmark close to bankruptcy at the beginning of the 1980s. One
politician of that time said the country was moving towards the edge of the cliff but with a first class ticket.
The job market reforms (also known as the “potato diet”) introduced during the Schlüter government (1982–1993), along with increased excise duties and taxes, were not popular with the Danes. This became very clear during a speech in 1985, when Schlüter was bombarded with tomatoes and eggs – a very strong signof disapproval for the otherwise peaceful Danes.
Even if heavily disliked, the reforms had a positive effect on state finances, the unemployment rate was slowly reduced, and privatisations got under way. Getting both the government and the population to accept financial responsibility for state finances is seen by some as being the greatest achievement of the Schlüter government.
The foreign ministers of the NATO countries will remember the Danish “footnote” practice of that period. A majority in the Danish Parliament insisted on having their disagreement with many NATO decisions recorded in footnotes.
When American President Ronald Reagan was asked about this Danish practice, he answered that he knew only Danish pastry, which annoyed many Danes.
Contents of Chapter 2. The country
2.1 General
2.1.1 History
2.1.2 Geography
2.1.3 Religion
2.1.4 The Danish flag
2.1.5 Security
2.2 Political system
2.2.1 The Danish monarchy
2.2.2 Government
2.2.3 Administration
2.3 Integration of foreigners
2.4 Danish values
2.4.1 Democracy
2.4.2 Freedom of speech
2.4.3 Rules and order
2.4.4 “Jantelov” and equality for all
2.4.5 A family-friendly society

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Worktrotter's Guide to Denmark

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