Constitution of DenmarkDenmark
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The Constitutional Act of the Kingdom of Denmark (Danish: Danmarks Riges Grundlov) was introduced on June 5, 1849 and effectively put an end to the absolute monarchy which had been introduced in Denmark in 1660.
The Constitution of 1849 established a bicameral parliament, the Rigsdag, consisting of the Landsting and the Folketing. The constitution severely limited the monarch's power and secured basic human rights; the most recent revision in 1953 abolished the Landsting and enabled women to inherit the throne.
Apart from the Constitution itself, the Act of Succession to the Danish Throne (Danish: "Tronfølgeloven") of 27 March 1953 also has status as a constitutional law, as it is directly referred to in Article 2 of the Constitional Act. Therefore, amendments to the Act of Succession require adherence to the constitutional amendment procedure as provided for in Article 88 of the Danish Constition Act. A bill to amend the Act of Succession is currently underway in order to abolish male preference to the throne (bill no. 1, Folketing session of 2005-06).
Finally, certain particular customs which are not explicitly referred to in the Constitutional Act itself, but that have been recognised as carrying constitutional legal weight (such as the right of the Finance Committee to authorise public expenditure outside of the national budget), also form part of Danish Constitional law.
The first constitution of Denmark was Lex Regia (Royal Law) of 1665. It established absolute power for King Frederick III of Denmark, replacing the old feudal system based on tradition. This is Europe's only formal absolutist constitution.
Absolute power was passed along with a succession of Danish monarchs until Frederick VII who agreed to sign the new constitution into law on 5 June 1849, which has since been a Danish national holiday.
Frederick VII's father and immediate predecessor, Christian VIII, ruled Denmark from 1839 to 1848, had earlier been king of Norway until political turmoil of 1814 forced him to abdicate after a constitutional convention. Those who supported similar constitutional reforms in Denmark were disappointed with his refusal to acknowledge any limitations to his inherited absolute power, and had to wait for his successor to put through the reforms.
The Constitution of 1849
- Details on the Constitution from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- English version of the Danish Constitution
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