Poul Schlüter

(b. 1929)

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(b. Tønder, 3 Apr. 1929)

Danish; chairman of the Conservative People's Party 1974–7, 1981–93, Prime Minister 1982–93 The son of a wholesale merchant, Schlüter went to school in Copenhagen and then on to university there. He was active in student politics and chaired the youth wing of the Conservative People's Party 1952–5. In 1957 he obtained his degree in law and in 1960 set up in legal practice in Copenhagen. Schlüter was elected to parliament as one of the members for Copenhagen in 1964 and held his seat until retiring in 1994. From 1966 to 1971 he served on the municipal council and as deputy mayor for Gladsaxe. In 1971 he was elected to his party's national executive committee, in 1974–82 to the chair of its parliamentary group. In this latter capacity he rapidly established a reputation as a pragmatic and skilful politician.

In 1982 Schlüter became the first Danish Conservative Prime Minister this century when Anker Jørgensen and the Social Democratic government resigned as a result of the economic crisis. Schlüter's political acumen helped him to stay in office at the head of successive and various non-socialist coalition governments for an uninterrupted span of eleven years. In 1993, however, his incumbency came to an end as a result of the so-called Tamil affair, a refugee problem which eventually led to the prosecution of the former Minister of Justice.

Schlüter's international experience has included acting as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly in 1965, as a member of the Council of Europe 1971–4, and as leader of the Danish delegation to the Nordic Council 1978–9. As Prime Minister he also of course served on the European Council of Ministers. From 1994 until 1999 he was a member of the European parliament, and its Vice-President 1994–7, and he continued to play a part in Danish public life.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Politics.

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