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Thorvald Stauning

1873-1942, Danish politician. Stauning finished his apprenticeship as a cigar sorter in 1891 and in the following years was active in the trade union movement.

From 1896 to 1908 he was leader of the Cigar Sorters' Union, in 1898-1904 editor of the magazine of the Federation of Trade Unions Samarbejdet (Co-operation). Concurrently he worked for the Social Democratic Party, becoming head cashier in 1898 and elected to the Folketing (Parliament) in 1906.

In 1910 he was elected leader of the Social Democratic Party, a post he held until 1939 when he was succeeded by Hans Hedtoft. In 1916 Stauning joined the Zahle government as Minister of Control, from 1918 as Minister without Portfolio (with responsibility for social affairs and the labour market).

From 1924 to 1926 Stauning was Prime Minister of the first Social Democratic government and from 1929 to 1940 he headed a coalition government of the Social Democratic Party and Det Radikale Venstre (the Social Liberal Party).

From the German occupation in April 1940 until his death he led an all-parties government. As a political leader for a lifetime he influenced both the Social Democratic labour movement and Danish politics. He contributed to the transformation of the Social Democratic Party from a class party to a popular party, expressed for instance in the programme Danmark for Folket (1934, Denmark for the People) drafted by Stauning.

Stauning was ideologically formed by classical Marxism, but in his political activities he was thoroughly pragmatic with an unerring sense of both the traditions of the labour movement and the historical popular traditions in Denmark. Thorvald Stauning is among the greatest, if not the greatest, figures in 20th century Danish politics.

Niels Finn Christiansen, Gyldendal Leksikon

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