Thu, Nov 15, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Danish government wins re-election for third term


Denmark's center-right government was re-elected for a third term as voters endorsed its policies to boost the economy and tighten immigration.

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen now faces tough talks on whether to expand the government bloc to include a new party headed by a Syrian-born Muslim immigrant that is calling for more humane treatment of asylum-seekers.

That group, New Alliance, hopes to reduce the influence of the government's traditional ally, the nationalist Danish People's Party, known for its hardline stance against immigrants, especially Muslims.

"Everything indicates that the government can continue," Fogh Rasmussen told jubilant supporters of his Liberal Party on Tuesday.

He said it was "historic" that a Liberal-led government had been elected to a third term.

Left-wing opposition leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt of the Social Democrats conceded defeat in a tearful speech to her supporters.

"I promised I would beat Anders Fogh Rasmussen. That didn't happen, unfortunately," she said. "Danes need more time before they hand over responsibility to us."

With 100 percent of votes counted, and unofficial results from the territories of Greenland and the Faeroe Islands, the governing bloc had won 95 of the 179 seats in parliament, including five for Naser Khader's New Alliance. The opposition got 84 seats.

Fogh Rasmussen said he would wait for the final vote tally, expected yesterday, before deciding whether to invite New Alliance to the government bloc.

Since 2001, Liberal-Conservative minority governments have relied only on the support of the Danish People's Party.

A total of 808 candidates ran, representing nine parties with 12 independents.

Turnout was 86.5 percent of the country's 4 million voters, up from 84.5 percent in 2005, the Interior Ministry said.

Khader, a karate black belt who once dreamed of becoming Palestinian foreign minister, has said he wants to pull the prime minister away from the influence of the Danish People's Party hard-line leader, Pia Kjaersgaard.

Even though it holds no Cabinet seats, Kjaersgaard's group has been instrumental in shaping tighter immigration laws.

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