It was with deep regret that the Socialist International learnt the news of the passing of Svend Auken, former leader of the Danish Social Democratic Party and former SI Vice President who died at the age of 66 of cancer on 4 August 2009.
He was Minister of Employment from 1977 to 1982, and in 1987 he became leader of the Social Democrats, a post he held until 1992. Later, when the Social Democratic Party went back to government in 1993, he served first as Minister for the Environment (1993-1994), and subsequently as Minister for the Environment and Energy (1994-2001). After the defeat of the SDP in the general election of 2001, he continued to serve as a member of the Danish parliament, maintaining a high profile on environmental issues and serving as European Affairs spokesperson for his party.
Auken maintained a strong commitment to the cause of social democracy in Europe and around the world. Elected at the XVIII Congress of the International, he served as SI Vice President from 1989 to 1992, and was a prominent voice who spoke with authority on a number of issues, including the democratisation of Central and Eastern Europe following the fall of the Berlin Wall. His support for our movement will long be remembered with gratitude by friends and colleagues worldwide.