Democracy, governance & law:

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.


From the period 1956-1970, the welfare state model that is known today in Denmark was established and public welfare benefits began to reach many different parts of society rather than just the weakest. Photo: Jason Vosper, colourbox.dk.

2019.10.09 | Film, Peter Yding Brunbech, Governance, Nation building, The Nordic Model

Mini-lecture on the Danish welfare state

Even though the welfare state in the Nordics is under pressure and its design is continously debated, it has rarely been more strongly supported in Danish history. Today, nearly all Danish political parties support the basic welfare society model, and they compete over who is best to secure it. Watch this mini-lecture and hear how, from a…

The modern flag of Iceland, which was adopted in 1918 when Iceland gained independence from Denmark. It was officially recognised in the Law of the National Flag of Icelanders and the State Arms in 1944 when Iceland became a republic. Photo: Public Domain.

2019.09.11 | The Quick Read, Agnes Arnórsdóttir, Nation building, Democracy

History of Iceland, 1840s to the Second World War

Even though Iceland remained under Danish rule, the Icelandic ‘Althing’ was restored in 1845 as a national consultative assembly, and in 1874 the country obtained a constitution giving the Althing its own legislative power. Home rule was introduced in 1904, and in 1918 Iceland became an independent and sovereign state in personal union with…

2019.09.10 | Outlook, Thorsten Borring Olesen, Democracy, Nation building, Research

Buying Greenland? Trump, Truman and the 'Pearl of the Mediterranean'

In the summer of 2019, the Trump Administration voiced an interest in buying Greenland from Denmark. The historical background for this stretches at least as far back as a case brought by Norway at the International Court in 1933 when it was decided that Denmark had full sovereignty over Greenland. Since then, Danish governments have engaged in…

Þingvellir, where Iceland was declared an independent republic on 17th June 1944, is a rich historic site and a popular tourist destination. Photo: Colourbox.

2019.09.04 | The Quick Read, Agnes Arnórsdóttir, Nation building, Governance

History of Iceland from 1944

After a referendum almost unanimously in favour, Iceland was declared an independent republic on 17th June 1944 at Þingvellir. Denmark did not, however, repeal the law which set out the terms of its personal union with Iceland until 1950. Since then, Iceland has been able to re-claim much of its cultural heritage from Danish institutions.…

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, Research

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.

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…

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, 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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