Denmark’s center-right-led opposition won parliamentary elections on Thursday, denying the Social Democrat Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt a second term in office after a campaign dominated by the immigration issue. The opposition Liberal Party leader Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who promised tighter immigration rules and tougher demands on new arrivals in the country, looked set to be the Nordic state’s new leader. With all of the results counted, the opposition bloc had won 52.3% of the vote or 90 seats in the 179 seat parliament. Ms. Thorning-Schmidt and her allies had secured 47.7% support or 85 seats.
Denmark goes to the polls on Thursday in a general election which opinion polls suggest is on a knife edge. The centre-left coalition of PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and the centre-right opposition led by ex-PM Lars Lokke Rasmussen, appear to be neck and neck. But the pollsters have only canvassed the Danish mainland – and voters in Greenland and the Faroe Islands may decide the vote. Minor issues like a Faroes fishing dispute could influence the result. The islands’ fishing community is still angry at Ms Thorning-Schmidt for barring its boats from Danish ports in a 2013 dispute over alleged overfishing.
It’s a little bit like the Falkland Islands getting to decide who leads the government in the U.K. Danes may have to spend the final hours of June 18 — election night — watching their former colonies Greenland and the Faroe Islands decide their fate. After almost two weeks of campaigning, polls show it’s now too close to predict a winner in Denmark’s election. That means four parliamentary seats reserved for the two Atlantic islands that form part of the Kingdom of Denmark may determine who becomes the country’s next prime minister. “The likelihood that North Atlantic votes will be decisive is rising,” said Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, a professor of political science at the University of Copenhagen. Should voting among Danes prove inconclusive, it “would be an unfortunate development for democracy,” he said.
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Denmark’s Social Democratic prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has announced that parliamentary elections will be held on 18 June. She said the minority government, whose term ends in September, would not resign before the election, but that it was time for voters to have their say on its policies. “It’s the right time to ask Danes whether we should keep the course or if we want experiments by [the opposition],” Thorning-Schmidt told a news conference on Wednesday. The opposition centre-right bloc, led by former prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, has a four-percentage-point lead in recent opinion polls. However, Thorning-Schmidt is ahead of Rasmussen in other polls when it comes to credibility.