June 7 – the Danish population go to the voting booths. On the table, other than the election for the European Parliament, is the law of succession to the Danish throne.
I was reminded of this last week, when I spotted a full-page advert in one of the free newspapers lying around the laundry room at my student dorms. The advert featured a picture of a family from the fifties, with the text covering the age of the current law. It ended with encouraging everybody to vote, regardless of what they would be voting for.
The current law of succession for Denmark is from 1953. Similar to the UK, it allows girls to inherit the throne, but only if they do not have a brother. The change, which also restricted the number of people in line to the throne to the descendants of Christian X and Queen Alexandrine, came after King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid only had girls.
Incidentally, the man who would have been king if the law of 1953 had not come through, Margrethe II’s cousin Count Ingolf of Rosenborg, is receiving a yearly support from the state. It is smaller than what he would have received if he’d been the king – around the same amount as Countess Alexandra of Frederiksborg gets, but then he also has a lot more personal freedom than what he would have had otherwise.
He does not have any children, and his brother, Count Christian, has three girls, so a change in the law of succession would most likely have come at a point in time anyway. (It is presumed that if the two had been first and second in line to the throne, the stories around their marriages and permission to it, would have been a bit different.)
At any rate, the law of succession is tied tightly to the Danish constitution. And to change it, it is up to the people to vote in a referendum.
It has gone through the Danish Parliament, twice with an election in-between (on November 13, 2007), as dictated. And on June 7, 2009, it is up to the Danish population to decide the end result.
In order for the law to change, there must be at least 40% of all registered voters, and a majority of the people voting, who say yes. That means, if only 39% of the registered voters show up, it won’t go through, no matter how many of those who vote yes.
You are a registered voter, if you are a Danish citizen, have turned 18 and are registered as living in Denmark. The citizens of the Danish dominions, Faroe Islands and Greenland, also have the right to vote.
In 2005, a poll concluded that 77% of the populace was in favour of changing the law. However, the poll was done in May, 2005, whereas Prince Christian was born in October.
To most, it may appear as though the change of the law won’t come into effect until Christian is producing offspring, and there is the risk that this will make voting on the law seem inconsequential at this point in time.
Regardless, it will be interesting to follow the process – Denmark will be voting on June 7.