COPENHAGEN, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Denmark's Socialist People's Party (SPP) elected Annette Vilhelmsen as its new chief at a party convention here on Saturday.
Vilhelmsen, 52, replaced Villy Soevndal, who resigned as Chairman in early September after seven years in the job. She has previously held the post of Business Affairs Spokesperson.
According to poll data released by the SPP, Vilhelmsen won 66 percent of the votes, while her rival candidate Astrid Krag, 29, who is also Health Minister in Denmark's center-left coalition government, took 34 percent.
"We need progress. We face a great challenge, that of rejuvenating our party. The good thing is that there is room for improvement," Vilhelmsen said in a speech after the vote.
The SPP joined the government for the first time following the Danish general elections in Sept. 2011, placing it in a tripartite coalition with the Social Democratic Party and Social Liberal Party.
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt welcomed the election of Vilhelmsen, saying in an official statement that she "looked forward to a good and constructive partnership on government policy with the SPP's new Chairman."
Recent opinion polls showed historically low support for the SPP, even among its core voters, and political analysts here said this suggested that members are dissatisfied with the way their party is conducting policy in the government. They would like to see it pursue a more left-wing, socially-sensitive agenda, including a focus on extending benefits for the unemployed, stimulating the economy and raising taxes on the rich.
Vilhelmsen is seen to be more in favor of left-leaning policies, with a greater focus on social responsibility, while Krag is said to represent a wing of the party in favor of more centrist policies, including a conservative approach to the economy.
As such, analysts said Vilhelmsen's election reflected her strong backing among the SPP rank and file, as well as regional leaders, who believed she could revive the party's fortunes.
Vilhelmsen is a also Member of Danish Parliament, and has several years experience in municipal politics.