Democracy, governance & law

This page provides articles on both the well-established, democratic traditions that the Nordic countries are famous for, such as the welfare state and the Nordic model. It also includes content about the challenges to the social democratic order, such as digitalisation and neoliberalism. Articles also include those that are tagged as being to do with minorities, public policy and education. New articles are added on a regular basis.


UN Member States were informed about Greenland's change of status from a colony to a county in 1954. Photo: Courtesy of UN publications.

2019.08.19 | Article, Simon Mølholm Olesen, Governance, Nation building

The Danish decolonisation of Greenland, 1945-54

An international discussion on decolonisation followed in the aftermath of the Second World War in the mid-1940s. The newly formed United Nations created some of the most important platforms for these discussions. Consequently, Danish politicians and civil servants feared that Greenland, the last of the Danish colonies, would attract negative…

Support for the welfare state remains in the Nordics, even by those at the opposite ends of the political spectrum.

2019.06.25 | Article, Helena Kaarina Blomberg, Pauli Kettunen, Public policy, Governance

The Nordic welfare state: staying fit-for-purpose

There have been drastic changes to the political and economic climate since the inception of the Nordic welfare states in the twentieth century. Changes are required to meet the needs of today’s populations. People are less static than they once were; their roles both in and out of the job market change over time, and integration with the…

With the stroke of a pen by their foreign minister, the Americans acknowledged Danish sovereignty to the whole of Greenland. Photo: Nicola Thomas, Unsplash.

2019.06.21 | Original sources, Nation building, Law

USA's declaration on Danish sovereignty of Greenland, 1916

On 4th August 1916, the American government issued a declaration to the Danish government that it would not raise objections if Denmark extended its interests in Greenland to include the entire island. This was perhaps surprising given the 1832 Monroe Doctrine intended to limit European colonialism. The declaration paved the way for recognition of…

Map to show the growth of the now-called European Union, from the original six countries of the EEC to 28 members in 2019. Photo: teaching materials, https://europa.eu.

2019.06.14 | Original sources, Democracy, Law

EEC referenda in Denmark and Norway, 1972

Both Denmark and Norway held referenda on whether to join the European Economic Community in 1972. After Danes supported joining and Norwegians did not, this editorial was published in a federalist journal in which the editors try to understand the differing results.

Danes arriving in Flensburg from Copenhagen and elsewhere for the 1920 vote on whether the Middle Schleswig zone should be Danish or German.

2019.06.12 | Video, Nation building, Minorities

Drawing the German-Danish border: the vote in Flensburg, 1920

Go to Flensborg, Germany, in 1920 and see firsthand what it was like during the plebiscite on 14th March. Would Flensborg and central Schleswig remain German or become a new part of Denmark? Klaus Tolstrup Petersen, historian and director of the Schleswig Collection (Danish Central Library for South Schleswig), explains in Danish with English…

Poster from 1920. Picture: Drawn by Rasmus Christiansen.  Rigsarkivet (CC BY-SA 2.0).

2019.06.07 | Video, Nation building, Minorities

Drawing the German-Danish border: posters and propaganda from 1920

Go with Klaus Tolstrup Petersen, historian and director of the Schleswig Collection (Danish Central Library for South Schleswig), back to 1920 when a plebiscite was held on whether the area of northern and middle Schleswig would be Danish or German. Take a look at the many posters and propaganda that were used to try to sway voters in this film in…

Coalition governments are the norm in the Nordic countries. Meeting room at the Danish Parliament. Photo: Folketinget, Anders Hviid.

2019.06.04 | The Quick Read, Robin Pettitt, Democracy

Political coalitions in the Nordic region

Nordic countries have been labelled ‘consensual democracies’ due to the use of cross-party coalitions in forming governments. As political parties that are in competition with one another end up working together, it arguably reduces aggressive, oppositional electioneering, and fosters collaboration. On the other hand, it is difficult for voters to…

The Oslo Stock Exchange, or 'Oslo Børs'. The financial and other markets were highly regulated in all the Nordic countries post-war, but this changed radically in the 1980s and 1990s. Photo: Colourbox.

2019.05.28 | The Quick Read, Susanna Fellman, Economy, Public policy

The 'Nordic model' of capitalism

The five Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) are often characterised as being welfare capitalist, featuring a combination of free market activity and government intervention. However, the institutional frameworks and economic policy models have changed over time, and the ‘model’ used has varied between countries and…

Linguistically hybrid logo for a German sports club in Aabenraa, Denmark.

2019.05.06 | Article, Peter Thaler, Minorities, Multiculturalism

The German Minority in Southern Denmark

The historical duchy of Schleswig was divided following two plebiscites in 1920. Ever since, South Schleswig has formed the northern section of the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, whereas North Schleswig forms the Danish border region of South Jutland. National minorities were left behind on both sides of the border. Thus, a minority…

A view of the skyline of the Danish capital Copenhagen which gave its name to the Copenhagen Declaration negotiated during Denmark's presidency of the Council of Europe in 2017/2018. Photo: Alessandro Bellone, Unsplash.

2019.04.26 | Article, Nicola Witcombe, Law, Governance, Minorities

The European Convention on Human Rights: Copenhagen Declaration 2018

The Copenhagen Declaration 2018 is a non-binding road map for the Council of Europe with respect to the European Convention on Human Rights. It was agreed by the 47 members of the Council of Europe during Denmark’s chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers from November 2017 to May 2018. The Danish government’s position was to push for greater…

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