Danish right set to claim narrow election victory

DENMARK'S CENTRE-RIGHT government seems set for a narrow election victory today, as it promises more tough anti-immigration measures and tax cuts while pledging to defend the country's welfare state.

With 11th-hour opinion polls predicting a tight finish, the Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said it would be "dangerous to take the result for granted." He added: "Taking into account the strong economic situation and general feeling of happiness, I can't blame you for thinking you are reporting from an election campaign in a fairytale country."

Until the last few days Mr Rasmussen's victory looked certain, and political analysts still expect him to emerge victorious, although opinion polls have narrowed in the run up to voting day. The Prime Minister's strong position underlines a remarkable comeback for a man whose party was languishing in voter surveys only a year ago.

Victory for his Liberal Party would be a fillip for Tony Blair because he also backed the war in the Iraq. Although most Danes initially backed the war and the opposition fell into line, six out of 10 now favour withdrawing troops - five of whom have been charged with abusing Iraqi prisoners. However, Iraq has featured little in an election campaign dominated by welfare benefits and immigration.

The telegenic Mr Rasmussen, who has presided over a successful economy, has stolen the clothes of the populist far-right Danish People's Party, which has given unofficial support to the government, by launching an unprecedented crack down on immigration.

In July 2002, Denmark tightened its laws and decided only to accept refugees as defined by the Geneva Conventions, meaning those who have been or have concrete fears of being persecuted because of their race, religion or political beliefs. Denmark has also made it harder for foreigners to get residence permits and bring in spouses born outside the EU, and closed a host of asylum reception centres. The combined measures led to a dramatic drop in the number of asylum-seekers, from 12,512 in 2001 to 3,222 last year.

Meanwhile Mr Rasmussen has left his Social Democrat opponents little room for manoeuvre by proclaiming his commitment to Denmark's popular welfare state. Despite promising tax cuts, he has persuaded many that these can be achieved without eating into their prized social security benefits, which include high quality health care and education, generous unemployment benefits and guaranteed childcare.

Suave and self-assured, if aloof, Mr Rasmussen has appeared confident, while the Social Democrats have laboured under the uncharismatic Mogens Lykketoft.

The Social Democrats, having appeared set for their worst result in more than 30 years, have bounced back in late polling on warnings that tax cuts would mean "massive" cuts in welfare programmes. But a dull campaign has failed to convince many that welfare benefits would be under real threat from a second term of Mr Rasmussen.

The Social Democrats' have also seen their vote eaten into by the anti- immigrant Danish People's Party. "They've sold out," says Steen, a 41- year old postal worker, who along with many other former Social Democrats has switched sides in protest at what they see as an ineffective and complacent opposition. "I'd really like to shock these guys. That's why this time I'll vote for the DPP," he said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower