Denmark gets first woman premier

Helle Thorning-Schmidt was once derided as ‘Gucci Helle’ because of her taste for designer clothes and accessories. AP

After returning the Social Democrats to power following 10 years in opposition, no one questions Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s credentials as leader of a party sprung from Denmark’s labour movement in 1871.

But the 44-year-old mother of two still faces doubts about her ability to act as a unifying figure for the diverse “red bloc” that won Thursday’s election, and for Denmark as a whole.
Tall, blonde and elegantly dressed, Thorning-Schmidt projected confidence and poise during meetings with voters, and handled the media with wit and a disarming smile.

The questions is whether she can convince parties that don’t agree on the taxes and welfare cuts needed to shore up public finances amid Europe’s debt crisis.

Thorning-Schmidt had been a lawmaker in the European Parliament in Brussels for five years when she was elected Social Democratic leader in 2005.

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