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Denmark election: Social Democrats lead but no majority, exit poll suggests | Denmark

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Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s Social Democrats finished first in Danish elections, according to exit polls, but neither the ruling left nor the rival right-wing bloc are heading for a majority, making his predecessor and his new centrist party of kingmakers.

An exit poll from public broadcaster DR on Tuesday predicted that Frederiksen, who was forced to call a vote when an allied party withdrew its support, led the Social Democrats to a score of around 23%, or almost double that of the Liberals in second place.

But the prime minister’s “red bloc” of left-wing parties had to fall short of the 90 seats required for a 179-seat majority in parliament, with 85 seats. The opposition “blue bloc” of right-wing parties also seemed doomed, returning 73 MPs.

If confirmed, the outcome could make Lars Løkke Rasmussen – the centre-right former Prime Minister defeated by Frederiksen in 2019 – the kingmaker, with the projected 17 MPs for his new centrist party, the Moderates, holding the balance of power.

The result could be the first centrist coalition to bridge Denmark’s traditional left-right divide since the 1970s. “We hope for a government with the Liberals [Rasmussen’s former party]the social democrats and the moderates,” said Jakob Engel-Schmidt, deputy leader of the centrist party, after the polls.

Analysts have warned that negotiations to form a new government could take weeks or even months, with the two blocs potentially looking to outbid each other to secure Rasmussen’s support and, with him, a parliamentary majority.

Frederiksen had hoped for a vote of confidence in his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and in his continued leadership in the face of high energy prices, runaway inflation and growing insecurity caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine.

But the election has become a battle for the center between the prime minister, who has said she wants to form a broad left-right coalition to steer the country through difficult times, and Rasmussen, who has said her aim is to create ” a new political situation. ”.

His party, launched in June, rose to third place behind the Social Democrats and the Liberals.

Rasmussen, prime minister from 2009 to 2011 and again from 2015 to 2019, is expected to use his post-election influence not only to create a broad-based coalition, but may even argue that he should be the next prime minister.

He insisted on Tuesday that the premiership was “not on my mind”, but polls indicate voters would prefer him over right-wing candidates Jakob Ellemann-Jensen of the Liberal Party and Søren Pape Poulsen of the Conservatives.

Frederiksen hinted at a high-level ministerial role for Rasmussen in return for her party’s support, and said she was willing to discuss health care reforms, one of her top concerns.

Ellemann-Jensen called on Rasmussen to align himself with his former right-wing colleagues. “We will do our best to be the bridge, that’s the whole idea behind it all,” Rasmussen said after casting his vote in central Copenhagen.

Frederiksen has received praise for navigating Denmark through the pandemic, but his popularity has slipped, in part due to the decision to cull the country’s entire captive mink population of 15 million over fears that a variant of Covid -19 only moves towards humans.

A parliamentary committee said in June that the government had no legal justification for the slaughter, which devastated Europe’s biggest fur exporter, and that it had made “grossly misleading” claims in ordering the sector closure.

Denmark’s tougher immigration policies have reduced support for the far-right Danish People’s Party, but a new party formed by former liberal immigration minister Inger Støjberg is expected to get 8% and together the three right-wing populist anti-immigration parties could collect 15% of the vote.

A reliable preliminary result was expected to be announced early Wednesday morning. A total of 14 parties were in the running, with four seats reserved for the overseas self-governing territories of Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

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