Lack of Transparency in Selection of the Danish Ombudsman: Old Habits Die Hard

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Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman Jørgen Steen Sørensen resigned from office on November 1 to take on the job of a Supreme Court judge. Sørensen had announced his intention to resign on short notice because of the extraordinary circumstance of his audition for a Supreme Court judge. However, with the Parliament shut until October because of the summer recess, MPs struggled to find the new Ombudsman. The Parliament eventually filled the vacancy with a month delay, but throughout this time, it was not clear who was up in the running, how to apply for the position, or when the decision on the new Ombudsman will be made.

The delay was also due to the fact that the Standing Committee of the Parliament on Legal Affairs (LAC), which is tasked with authority to propose a suitable candidate for an Ombudsman to the Parliament, had a hard time reaching an agreement. The Committee, therefore, decided to appoint a temporary Ombudsman in the interim, who served the whole month of November 2019. The Ombudsman proper will take office on December 1.

The episode showed that the selection of an Ombudsman in Denmark is unwieldy and somewhat obscure, especially when compared to appointments to other public offices and comparative best practice. This contribution examines the procedure for selection of the Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman, taking the recently adopted “Venice Principles on the Protection and Promotion of the Ombudsman Institution” as a benchmark. The selection process of the Danish Ombudsman could be modernised at least in one important way: the process should be opened up to allow for external applications that would be transparently processed and evaluated.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date7 Dec 2019
PublisherBlog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Simon Drugda, Lack of Transparency in Selection of the Danish Ombudsman: Old Habits Die Hard, Int’l J. Const. L. Blog, Dec. 7, 2019, at:

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Law - Danish parliamentary ombudsman, Ombudsman institutions, Venice Commission, Appointment of ombudsmans, Transparency, Open application for public office

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