Mette Frederiksen, 41, is the current Prime Minister of Denmark and leader of the Social Democrats who made headlines this week after President Donald Trump postponed a meeting with her due to her having “no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland”.
“Denmark is a very special country with incredible people” the President wrote on Twitter, “but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments…I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time..”
He also praised the Prime Minister for saving “a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”
It’s unclear why the President wants to purchase Greenland or why he thought the Prime Minister of Denmark would have the authority to sell it, or why he thought it would be for purchase in the first place. Frederiksen was perplexed by the question as well.
“Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously,” Frederiksen told the newspaper Sermitsiaq.
“It’s an absurd discussion, and [Greenland Premier] Kim Kielsen has of course made it clear that Greenland is not for sale. That’s where the conversation ends,” she added.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow confirmed that the President is exploring the possibility of buying Greenland in a Fox News interview, saying ““I don’t want to predict an outcome, I’m just saying the president, who knows a thing or two about buying real estate, wants to take a look at a Greenland purchase.”
He continued by justifying the strategy behind the idea “Denmark owns Greenland, Denmark is an ally, Greenland is a strategic place, up there. And they’ve got a lot of valuable minerals.”
Mette Frederiksen has been a political force in Denmark credited with leading transformative within the Social Democrat party. She has been praised for her commitment to climate change and criticized for her tough stance on immigration.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She’s the Youngest Prime Minister in Denmark History
After Denmark’s Social Democrats beat the three-party center-right bloc led by Lars Lokke Rasmussen of the Venstre party in June, the two parties negotiated for three weeks before Frederiksen announced that they would be forming a new left-leaning, one-party minority government with her becoming the country’s youngest Prime Minister.
She is also the second woman Prime Minister in Denmark’s history. The first was Helle Thorning-Schmidt who served as the 26th Prime Minister of Denmark from 2011 to 2015.
Frederiksen was able to lead a resurgence of the social democrats in part for her hard-line stance on immigration, an issue that was one of the biggest concerns among voters prior to the election.
2. She Supports Hard-Line, Anti-Islam and Anti-Immigrant Policies
Frederiksen has ushered in a new wave of the Social Democratic party with her left-leaning economics and right-leaning immigration policies. The dramatic shifts in policy have come in response to a change in public opinion.
CNN reported that a political analyst at the Politiken newspaper told them immigration and the welfare state were the most important issues ahead of the election along with climate change.
She has led the charge for policies that include putting a cap on “non-western” immigrants, a policy that would force asylum seekers to be sent to a reception center in North Africa, and forcing all immigrants to work a minimum of 37 hours a week in order to receive benefits.
The Social Democrats also voted for a ban on full-face veils or “niqabs”. Wearing a niqab in public now carries a fine of 1,200 kroner and repeat offenders can face fines up to 10,000 kroner. They also voted in favor of a law that allowed jewelry to be stripped from refugees.
Despite her public spat with President Trump, the two actually share some common ground with their immigration policies. “There’s little difference between the present government and Trumpism on this count,” Ulf Hedetoft, director of the Center for the Study of Nationalism and a professor at the University of Copenhagen, told The Washington Post in an email. “In fact they are both national populists, though the Danish party/Frederiksen would hate to admit it.”
In her recent biography, Frederiksen explained her reasoning for the tough immigration policies, “For me, it is becoming increasingly clear that the price of unregulated globalisation, mass immigration and the free movement of labour is paid for by the lower classes,”
“I was aware that shifting the position in the party would take a lot, but I knew that I had to win that fight,” Frederiksen continued in her biography, “Normally, I would seek to compromise, but not on immigration policy.”
3. She Has a Plan to Cut Denmark’s Carbon Emissions 70% by 2030
Frederiksen has pushed the party’s economic and climate change policies far to the left.
In fact, climate change has become her number one priority. In an ambitious agreement the new government pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 70% below the 1990 level, a massive increase over the previous target of 40%.
The new roadmap was agreed to by Social Democrats, the centrist Danish Social Liberal Party, the Socialist People’s Party, and the Red-Green Alliance. In a statement, the left-wing alliance admitted the target would be “particularly difficult to reach” but that “the world and Denmark are in a climate crisis” and that limiting global temperature rise is “not just the right thing to do, it’s also the most economically responsible one”.
4. She’s Engaged to Director Bo Tengberg
Mette Frederiksen is currently engaged and planned to be married to Bo Tengeberg, a well-known cinematographer and director in Denmark. He’s worked as a cinematographer on several films including The Killing, Angels in Fast Motion, and Mom Squad. His directorial debut, Wonderful Copenhagen, was released in 2018.
She was previously married to Erik Harr, a Direktør at FADL. The couple has two children, daughter Ida Feline Harr (17) and Son Magne Harr (13).
5. She Started Her Career in Politics at a Young Age
According to Stylist Magazine, in an interview with Danish news agency Ritzau prior to her victory, Mette’s father Flemming Frederiksen said she got her start in politics at a young age.
“She has been preoccupied with political matters since she was six/seven years old,” he said, adding, “I have never doubted that Mette, if she wanted to, could go all the way.”
Mette became an official member of the Social Democrats’ youth branch at 15 and was appointed to her first position in parliament as Employment and Justice Minister at 24.