Freedom in the World
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Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
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Several riots and violent protests occurred in 2009, including in Copenhagen’s Noerrebro neighborhood and during the December UN Climate Change Conference in the Danish capital. In October, two men were arrested in connection with a terrorist plot targeting the offices of the newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Meanwhile, a controversy erupted over the military’s attempt to prevent the publication of a book on the grounds that it would reveal sensitive military information.
During the UN Climate Change Conference held in December in the Danish capital, a series of small-scale protests culminated in a much larger demonstration on December 12, in which nearly 1,000 protestors were held under Denmark’s controversial preventive detention law, which allows demonstrators to be administratively detained on the mere suspicion of disturbing the peace. Some demonstrators were kettled, a controversial police tactic in which a large group of protestors is contained in a limited area without access to food, water, or toilets. Law enforcement officials used pepper spray and tear gas against some of the activists. An investigation by the country’s ombudsman into these incidents was ongoing at year’s end.
Denmark is an electoral democracy. The current constitution, adopted in 1953, established a single-chamber parliament (the Folketing) and retained a monarch, currently Queen Margrethe II, with mostly ceremonial duties. The parliament’s 179 representatives are elected at least once every four years through a system of modified proportional representation. The leader of the majority party or coalition is usually chosen to be prime minister by the monarch. Danish governments most often control a minority of seats in parliament, ruling with the aid of one or more supporting parties. Since 1909, no single party has held a majority of seats, helping to create a tradition of compromise.