Helle Thorning-Schmidt, nicknamed Gucci-Helle by the tabloid press, is first female head of Denmark's Social Democrats
By Annette Nielsen
FORUM/13.4.2005 Helle Thorning-Schmidt, 38, has been elected leader of Denmark's Social Democrat Party. She is the first woman to head the party in its 134-year history. Thorning-Schmidt's election follows the worst result for the Social Democrat Party for years in Denmark's February general election.
"The Social Democrats are back!" Ms Thorning-Schmidt told a jubilant party crowd. "To every Social Democrat who voted for me, I say: I promise to take good care of our party. I will work hard every day to deserve the faith you have placed in me. It's goodbye to the image of the party as rigid and ruled from the top."
Thorning-Schmidt represents the centre-left wing of the party and she won over the traditional leftist Frank Jensen in a party referendum. Deep divisions have plagued the Social Democrats since the reformist former Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen narrowly became party leader in 1992.
Ms Thorning-Schmidt says from now on "Social Democrats will stick together".
If the Social Democrats win the next election, Ms Thorning-Schmidt just might become the first female prime minister in Denmark.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt was member of the European Parliament 1999-2004. She is married to former British Labour leader Neil Kinnock's son Stephen Kinnock and has two children.
Annette Nielsen is Editor of FORUM for gender and culture.