The framework for Danish democracy is laid down in the Constitutional Act of Denmark, with a set of fundamental principles and rules for society. For instance, the Constitutional Act establishes the rights and duties of individual citizens, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion and compulsory military service.
The Constitutional Act is the most important piece of legislation in Denmark, and all other laws must comply with it.
The division of power
As in many other democracies, the Danish Constitutional Act divides power into three independent branches in order to prevent the abuse of power. In Denmark, the Danish Parliament is the legislative power, enacting the laws of the country. The Government is the executive power, ensuring that laws are implemented. And the courts of law are the judicial power, pronouncing judgements in disputes between citizens and between the authorities and citizens.
Amendments to the Constitutional Act
The Constitutional Act of Denmark is one of the oldest constitutions in the world. It has only been amended a few times since it was enacted in 1849. This is partly because making an amendment is a rather complex procedure, requiring that both the Danish Parliament and the Danish people agree to it. However, another important reason is that the wording in the Constitutional Act is so general that it can still be applied today, despite major changes in society and political life over the past 160 years.
The contents of the Constitutional Act
In its present form, the Constitutional Act is from 5 June 1953, but the principal features of the Act go back to 1849. It originally contained 100 sections, which have now been reduced to 89 sections, grouped in eleven chapters.