Danish 'yes' campaign in crisis after pro-euro leaders squabble over tactics

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The Independent Online

The campaign for a "yes" in Denmark's referendum on the euro, trailing by 12 points in one opinion poll, was in crisisyesterday as the contest approached its final week.

The campaign for a "yes" in Denmark's referendum on the euro, trailing by 12 points in one opinion poll, was in crisisyesterday as the contest approached its final week.

In a sign of disarray among those backing the single currency, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the leader of the pro-euro Liberal Party, attacked the campaign tactics of his namesake and ally, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, the social democratic Prime Minister.

Although the two men are political rivals and have clashed before, the outburst is the latest blow to a cross-party political alliance that should have been assured of victory. With the support of the political establishment, the trade unions, the employers and all newspapers bar one Eurosceptic tabloid,the "yes" camp once lookedinvincible.

But, after losing its poll lead before the summer, only to regain a narrow edge earlier this month, the "yes" campaign is again in the doldrums with no consensus on how to fight in the final crucial week.

A succession of polls during the past 10 days has put them behind, culminating in yesterday's Gallup survey in the daily paper Berlingske Tidende, placing the pro-euro campaigners at 37 per cent and the "no' camp at 49 per cent.

There is a chink of light for euro supporters. A second poll in the Politiken newspaper puts the two sides within two percentage points. Most surveys show about 14-15 per cent of people have yet to decide and, of those, two-thirds are expected to back the "yes" campaign. Most observers still expect a close result.

But the advocates of a single currency have been blown off course by the slump in the value of the euro, and by a "no" campaign that portrayed the euro as a threat to Denmark's generous welfare state. According to Hella Thorning-Schmidt, a pro-euro social democratic MEP, the drop in the value of the currency has come at the worst possible time.

While currency movements are outside the control of Danish politicians, other weaknesses have been exposed as the pro-euro camp was caught off-guard by the "no" campaign's claim that the single currency threatened state pensions.

As Ms Thorning-Schmidt put it: "We under-estimated the cruelty and ruthlessness of their attack. We did not think they would go that far."

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