Anker Joergensen, Danish former prime minister, dies at 93

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Posted: Mar 20, 2016 4:56 PM
Anker Joergensen, Danish former prime minister, dies at 93

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Anker Joergensen, a former prime minister loved by many Danes for his down-to-earth character but criticized for his handling of economic problems in the 1970s and '80s, has died. He was 93.

Joergensen's Social Democrats announced his death in a statement Sunday. It didn't give the date or cause of death.

Joergensen led Danish governments in 1972-1973 and 1975-1982, a time when Denmark was marred by political turmoil and economic problems. He resigned in 1982 after failing to get support for tax increases and spending cuts he had proposed to deal with the ailing economy.

Danes appreciated his humble demeanor and called him by his first name. Instead of moving in to the prime minister's official residence, Joergensen and his family stayed in their apartment in a working-class neighborhood of Copenhagen.

"Throughout his life he was a tireless voice for creating equal opportunities for all people," said Mette Frederiksen, the current leader of the Social Democrats.

Joergensen was a trade union leader with no government experience when he was tapped to succeed Social Democratic Prime Minister Jens Otto Krag in 1972.

He drew criticism from Washington and NATO allies for opposing the U.S. engagement in Vietnam and calling for diplomatic ties with communist East Germany. He also supported Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and said the Palestinians should have their own state.

As opposition leader in the 1980s, he demanded that Denmark should be neutral in the Cold War and NATO warships shouldn't carry nuclear arms when in Danish waters. The opposition forced early elections in 1988, but the pro-NATO, right-leaning minority government that took over after Joergensen was able to stay in power.

Joergensen stepped down as leader of the Social Democrats in 1989. His wife, Ingrid, died in 1997.