Friday, February 3, 2012

Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Helle Thorning-Schmidt (born 14 December 1966) is a Danish politician and the current Prime Minister of Denmark. She has been leader of the Danish Social Democrats since April 2005 and prime minister since October 2011.

Thorning-Schmidt served as a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2004 before being elected to the Danish Parliament in 2005. She replaced Mogens Lykketoft as party chair after the 2005 parliamentary election, leading her party through the 2007 parliamentary election which was won by the opposing centre-right alliance. Following the September 2011 parliamentary election and two weeks of negotiations with the other opposition parties, she was appointed Prime Minister by Queen Margrethe II. She is the first woman to become Prime Minister of Denmark. Thorning-Schmidt holds degrees in political science from the University of Copenhagen and the College of Europe.

Early life, education and personal background
Helle Thorning-Schmidt was born in Rødovre to Holger Thorning-Schmidt, a lecturer in mathematics and national economics at the University of Copenhagen, and his wife Grete. Her parents were both politically conservative and she grew up in the Copenhagen suburb of Ishøj. She attended Ishøj Gymnasium, from which she graduated in 1985. Her parents divorced when she was 10 years old.

Thorning-Schmidt studied political science at University of Copenhagen, earning a cand.scient.pol. degree in 1994. She also holds a master's degree in European studies specialising in policy and public administration from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium, where she studied from 1992 to 1993 (she is an alumna of the Charles IV promotion). At the time, Denmark had a quota administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of one student at this prestigious institution, and Thorning-Schmidt was selected. In addition to her native Danish, she speaks fluent English and French.

She married Stephen Kinnock in 1996, so becoming the daughter-in-law of Neil Kinnock, Baron Kinnock, former leader of the British Labour Party and European Commissioner, and Glenys Kinnock, Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead, former British Minister for Europe. She met her husband while they were both attending the College of Europe. They have two daughters, Johanna and Camilla. Helle lives in Copenhagen with their children, while her husband currently resides in Davos, Switzerland, where he works as a director for the World Economic Forum.

She became a Social Democrat during her studies in Belgium and joined the Danish Social Democrats in 1993.

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