Danish voters approve change of royal succession

Danish voters have approved that women will in future have the right to be first in line to the throne, according to early returns in a referendum on the succession law held Sunday.

Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen welcomed the projections that indicated the proposed change would pass, saying ‘it was important for gender equality,’ and welcomed the turnout of over 59 per cent compared to 47.9 per cent in 2004.

‘It shows that Denmark’s democracy is strong,’ he told supporters of his centre-right Liberal Party after polling was over.

The change – earlier approved by parliament – is to ensure that the first-born child of any future monarch will succeed to the throne, regardless of gender.

The change will not have any effect on the current royal family as Crown Prince Frederik’s oldest child, Prince Christian, was born before his sister, Isabella.

The current law of succession was introduced in 1953. Queen Margrethe is the oldest of three sisters and became monarch in 1972 only as there were no male heirs.

The referendum that hinged on turnout of at least 40 per cent of the some 4 million registered voters was held in connection with European Parliament elections where Danes were to elect 13 members.

Some 78 per cent voted yes, 13.4 per cent against and the rest were blank votes when some 40 per cent of ballots were counted.

Polling stations closed at 8 pm (1800 GMT). Referendum ballots were to be counted first since final results for the European parliament will be announced later on Sunday when voting ends across the European Union.

The opposition Social Democrats said they were heartened by projections and early returns that indicated they would remain the largest Danish party. The party was on track to win three seats, two fewer than 2004, with some 21 per cent of the vote – way under the 36 per cent they won five years ago.

The prime minister said Denmark had bucked a trend where many ruling parties in the European Union had lost support. His Liberals increased their vote for the first time since 2001 when it came to power.

Lokke Rasmussen also registered gains for the Conservative Party, junior partner in government, and the Danish People’s Party that provides backing for the minority government.

The populist, EU-sceptic Danish People’s Party doubled their vote to two seats, as did the opposition Socialist People’s Party.

The EU-critical People’s Movement Against the EU was on track to win one seat, the exit polls said.



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