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Clas Markussen

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The Right Honourable
Clas Markussen
MP
Clas Markussen.png
Prime Minister of Ørdegnien
Assumed office
24 June 2019
PresidentJohan Olsson
DeputyJosephine Petersson (2019-2020)
Lina Nyberg (2020-onwards)
Preceded byJoakim Persson
Leader of the Opposition
In office
20 May 2019 – 24 June 2019
Prime MinisterJoakim Persson
Preceded byNiamh Cooper
Succeeded byValdemar Söderberg
Leader of the Green Party
Assumed office
20 May 2019
Acting: 20 May 2019 – 30 May 2019
DeputyLoke Mathiesen
Petra Berntsen
Preceded byNiamh Cooper
Shadow Secretary of State for Finance
In office
10 October 2018 – 20 May 2019
LeaderNiamh Cooper
Preceded byBernard Valls
Succeeded byErica Öberg
Secretary of State
for Federal Affairs & Communities
In office
10 May 2018 – 18 August 2018
Prime MinisterKen Svensson
Preceded byLilly Carson (Devolution and Constitutional Reform)
Succeeded byLucan Saint-Meyer
Deputy Leader of the Green Party
In office
1 December 2016 – 20 May 2019
LeaderNiamh Cooper
Preceded byNiamh Cooper
Albert H. Montpelier
Succeeded byLoke Mathiesen
Petra Berntsen
Member of Parliament for
Perdrix
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byLiliana Surdu
Majority28,994 (49.6%)
Executive Director of Communications & Strategy for the Leader of the Opposition
In office
15 September 2005 – 10 May 2010
LeaderJakob Askildsen
Preceded byMichel Vilod
Succeeded byStefan Augestad
Personal details
Born (1973-04-03) 3 April 1973 (age 50)
Perdrix, Vardland, Ørdegnien
Political partyGP (2012 - present)
Other political
affiliations
Independent (Before 2012)
Domestic partnerAisling Lavigne
Alma materUniversity of Osea

Clas Markussen (born April 4 1973) is an Ørdegnien politician and journalist. He is currently serving as Prime Minister of Ordennya, Leader of the Green Party, and Member of Parliament for Perdrix. A former Cabinet Minister, he held positions in the 2015-2018 Coalition of Socialists & Democrats/Green Party coalition cabinet, first as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and later as Secretary of State for Federal Affairs & Communities. An Independent before 2010, he served as Director of Communications to former Labour Party leader Jean Oak, while he was Leader of the Opposition. He resigned from this position shortly after the 2010 election, later joining the Green Party in 2012, becoming the Director of Strategy for the overall Green Party, and is credited as the architect of their 2015 election campaign, where the Greens tripled their seat count and vote share. Markussen himself was elected as an MP in the 2015 election, and was appointed to the cabinet alongside a number of his Green Party colleagues. He stood for election to the Deputy Leadership of the Green Party, after Niamh Cooper and Albert H. Montpelier both resigned to contest the Party leadership. As Markussen was the only candidate in the election, he won 173,991 to 4,822 votes to re-open nominations. As Deputy Leader, he continued his role as Director of Strategy for the Green Party during the 2018 snap election campaign, and, alongside the manifesto and campaign led by Niamh Cooper, is credited with the Greens reaching first place in an election for the first time in its history. In 2019, he was elected Leader of the Green Party, and took office as Leader of the Opposition, before leading the Green Party into the 2019 snap election, the second election in 8 months, in which the Greens emerged victorious.

Early life and education

Markussen was born in Perdrix, a town in Vardland, Ørdegnien, to Katrin Markussen (neé Thunberg), a care worker, and Harald Markussen, a shopkeeper. He has an older brother, Willem Markussen, a University lecturer on Economics at the University of Onmutu in Ghant, and a younger sister, Lilliana Grimmson, who is a stage actor in Vastdal.

He attended Perdrix High School, before studying a BA in Multimedia Journalism and an MA in Economics at the University of Osea. While at University, he was chair of the Osean Communist Society (despite not holding membership of any Party) for two years as an undergraduate, and was elected as President of the Student's Union after completing his Master's degree.

Career as a journalist

After leaving the University of Osea, Markussen became a reporter for the Vastdal Evening Standard, as a junior political reporter, mostly reporting on Vastdal City Council proceedings. After three years, Markussen was hired as a political correspondent by Dagens Nyheter. In this capacity, he was part of the team who reported on the 2000 Parliamentary expenses scandal, which had major political implications in the run up to the 2000 election, which saw the Labour Party lose nearly 200 seats while the Conservatives were able to recover a lot of lost ground.

Because of his work on that story, Markussen was then promoted by Dagens Nyheter to the position of Deputy Political Editor.

Markussen was employed by the Labour Party in 2005, as Director of Communications to then-Leader of the Opposition and Labour Party leader, Jakob Askildsen.

Working for the Labour Party

Markussen's appointment as Director of Communications by Askildsen raised some eyebrows, as he had never been a member of the Labour Party, and did not join the Labour Party in the five years he served in the role. Askildsen, however, was keen for the Labour Party to take a new approach following its loss of 66 seats in the 2005 election, which also saw the surprise election of a majority Conservative government, which under the mixed-member system was disregarded as an almost impossible outcome.

In his time as Director of Communications, Markussen oversaw new co-ordination and rebuttal systems which revitalised Labour's communications machine, once both feared and respected, restoring it as the model for modern communications in politics and business. Despite his generally quite calm, unassuming manner, he did sometimes come over as somewhat cold, calculating, and unrelenting when it came to dealing with particularly hostile media outlets.

As a result, Labour saw its fortunes reverse in the polls as people began to see them as more competent and media-savvy, closing their gap with the Conservatives for much of the 2005-2010 parliament.

When the Labour Party merged with the Democratic Party and the Socialist People's Party to form the Popular Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, a move which he partly co-ordinated, he remained in his position as Director of Communications, and was also tasked with coming up with the new Party's election strategy for the 2010 election. He worked hard to win support from the national media for the Labour Party, particularly from the newspapers that for many years had been anti-Labour, such as his first newspaper, the Vastdal Evening Standard.

In the 2010 election, the PASD, which went into the election with 240 MPs, gained 29 seats, going up to 269 seats. The Conservatives also lost their majority, falling short by 22 seats.

While the PASD had been expected to do better, Markussen's handling of the campaign was applauded by many political pundits, who suggested that without him as Director of Communications, the Party would have increased their losses from 2005. When Askildsen announced his resignation as leader on 10 May 2010, Markussen also announced his resignation as Director of Communications, to return to journalism.

Return to journalism

In the summer of 2010, the Ordennyan Broadcasting Corporation announced that when Parliament returned from summer recess in September, Markussen would join the political talk show Daily Politics, as a regular commentator.

He also took up a position at the Vastdal School of Public Administration as a lecturer on the M.Sc Political Communications course, serving in the role for two years.

Entering politics with the Green Party

In January 2012, Green Party leader Rune Nyström approached Markussen to ask him to come on board as the Green Party's Director of Strategy. Reluctant to re-enter the political fray at first, he accepted, on the condition he be given full autonomy when it came to devising the Party's strategy for the 2015 general election, which Nyström accepted.

At first, Markussen remained an Independent during his employ with the Green Party, but after observing the parliamentary performances of Nyström and Niamh Cooper, as well as other MPs, he made the decision to formally join the Green Party, the first time he'd ever been a member of the political party.

Additionally, he was selected to contest his hometown constituency of Perdrix, a safe Conservative seat, following the death of the previous candidate, Gandalf Apell, who had stood for the Green Party in Perdrix for 20 years.

In the 2015 general election, Markussen's co-ordination of the Green Party's campaign led to the Party gaining the most from the collapse in the Conservative vote, jumping from 27 seats to 72 seats, with all gains being from the Conservatives in seats where the Popular Alliance of Socialists & Democrats stood down their candidates, tripling the Party's vote share, and leapfrogging the Liberal Party to become the main third Party. In addition, Markussen managed to win election in his home seat of Perdrix, winning the seat off of the Conservative incumbent with a slim majority of 102.

In the aftermath of the 2015 election, a coalition government was formed between the PASD and the Greens, with Markussen joining the cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, deputising for Kenneth Svensson, the Secretary of State for Financial & Economic Affairs, with responsibility for the implementation of key Green Party economic policies.

As a Cabinet Minister

Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Serving under Ken Svensson at the Treasury, Markussen was able to secure the inclusion of several Green Party policies in the first budget of the coalition, including the introduction of a Carbon Tax, government subsidies for hybrid and electric vehicles, and the introduction of a renewable energy input tarrif, whereby microgeneration would be incentivised by a small tarrif being paid per kilowatt of electricity generated by domestic solar panels or wind turbines.

Secretary of State for Federal Affairs & Communities

When Svensson took over as PASD leader and Prime Minister, Markussen was subsequently promoted to a full cabinet position, as Secretary of State for Federal Affairs & Communities, with responsibility for the relations between the federal government and the state governments, as well as local city, town, and parish government and councils. Markussen took over the department just two years after Ordennya's reform to a federal system of government, and played a key role in the creation of firm relations between the newly formed state governments and the federal government. He also announced tighter regulations on landlords and letting agents, including the abolition of letting agents fees and new exemptions from council tax for University students. In August 2018, he was the closing speaker for the government in the debate on a vote of no confidence in the government, which had been called after the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats split over a budget dispute. Markussen, who wasn't known for his speaking ability, earned praise for his speech in the debate, with one journalist dubbing it a "passionate and spirited defence of progressive values and government".

In Opposition

Niamh Cooper put Markussen in charge of the manifesto writing process for the 2018 snap election, and he continued his role from the 2015 general election as the Green Party's National Campaign Co-ordinator. The resulting manifesto went far beyond previous Green Party election platforms, which gave primary focus to environmental action with little mention of economic and social policy. The 2018 manifesto, under the direction of Markussen and Cooper, contained comprehensive proposals for overhauling the economy to promote co-operatives, increased taxes for the rich and for large businesses, and most notably a commitment to invest more money in public services, by contrast with the other parties in that election pledging austerity cuts.

The election resulted in the Green Party becoming the largest party in terms of seats and vote share, winning 215 seats and 31.2% of the vote, while the right-wing People's Party came a very close second, winning 214 seats and 31.1% of the vote. The election marked a realignment in Ordennyan politics, with the left-populist Green Party taking Labour's place as the main left-leaning party, with the right-populist People's Party supplanting the Conservatives for their place as the main right-leaning force. Despite coming first in the election, the Greens could not build a majority in the Chamber of Deputies with the Labour Party, so instead formed the opposition to the governing People's Party-Conservative Party-Liberal Party coalition.

Clas Markussen was given a high-profile role on the opposition frontbench, as Shadow Secretary of State for Finance, shadowing Deputy Prime Minister and People's Party leader Valdemar Soderberg. When the government revealed its economic programme, Markussen was a sharp critic of the proposals for tax cuts paid for by slashing public spending, calling it "the largest transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest in Ordennyan history". He was able to persuade several Liberal MPs to vote for Green Party amendments to the government's economic bills, owing to the slim six-seat majority the government held.

Amid opposition to the new centre-right government, tensions within the Green Party were becoming apparent. With the Greens now a major force in Ordennyan politics, discussions around the overall economic direction the Party should take were frequently held. Several figures within the Greens who leaned more to the centre, including Albert H. Montpelier and Zakarias Lundin, advocated moving away from the more radical proposals of 2018 towards a more moderate, centrist approach, while party leader Niamh Cooper and her allies, including Petra Berntsen and Loke Mathiesen, felt it would be better for the Greens to continue advocating for eco-socialism and social democracy. These tensions came to ahead following the May 2019 local elections, in which the Greens faced heavy losses when they were expected to make great gains. Blaming the leftward direction of the Greens for the losses, MPs narrowly voted to oust Cooper as leader and hold a new leadership election. Markussen, as Deputy Leader, was forced to take over the position of Leader of the Opposition for the duration of the leadership contest. Urged by allies of Cooper, and by Niamh Cooper herself, Markussen later declared his intention to stand in the leadership election, advocating that the Greens maintain their left-wing approach, but in a more moderate manner than before.

The leadership contest was interrupted, however, when the Liberal Party left the government to vote against the budget. With the budget failing to pass the Chamber of Deputies, the Prime Minister, Joakim Persson, called a snap election to be held in June. At the Green Party convention to approve the manifesto, Markussen was elected leader of the Green Party by acclamation, with the understanding that he would resign immediately after the election, which the Greens were expecting to lose amid falling to ten points behind the People's Party.

During the campaign, however, Markussen was able to reframe the debate from economic growth to individual prosperity, which he said would be at risk if the OFP's cuts came to fruition. His strong debate and interview performances caused a small, temporary bounce for the Greens in polling, but they never overtook to People's Party and, by election day, many predicted a decisive victory for the OFP-KP coalition. In the event, the Greens strengthened their position as the largest party, going from 215 seats to 247. The People's Party fell from 214 to 189, and the Conservatives won 91 seats. With the Labour Party's 87 seats, the Greens were able to form a coalition government with Markussen as Prime Minister.

Prime Minister

To be added