Posted on February 11, 2005

Danish PM Rules out Role for Anti-Immigrant Party

Clare MacCarthy, Financial Times (London), Feb. 9

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark’s prime minister, has ruled out a formal government role for his government ally, the anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party — despite its strong showing in Tuesday’s general election.

The prime minister said his existing Liberal-Conservative coalition would continue in office.

“Participation in government requires a basic consensus and the Danish People’s Party completely disagrees with us on European Union issues,” the prime minister said.

The party, led by Pia Kjaersgaard, will campaign against Denmark’s ratification of the new EU constitution in the referendum due later in 2005 or in 2006.

It also opposes Turkish membership of the bloc and has called for a separate referendum on that issue.

Final results for Tuesday’s general election gave Ms Kjaersgaard’s party a two-seat gain to 24, cementing its position as the third-largest party in parliament.

Mr Fogh Rasmussen’s Liberals slipped four seats to 52 while the Conservative Party, the junior coalition member, gained three seats to 19.

This gave the government, along with the Danish People’s Party, a total of 95 seats and a clear majority in Denmark’s 179-seat parliament.

The socialist opposition, meanwhile, was in tatters after the election, with four out of six party leaders announcing their resignations.

Mogens Lykketoft, who had hoped to become prime minister but instead led his Social Democrats to their worst defeat since 1973, said he had tried his best but “it was far from enough.”

The party, which dominated Danish politics for most of the 20th century, saw its share of the vote crumble to 25.9 per cent and its seat-count tumble to 47 from 52.

With no clear successor waiting in the wings, it could be weeks before the Social Democrats find a new leader.

A similar struggle awaits the Socialist People’s Party after its leader, Holger Nielsen, said he too was stepping down.

Mr Nielsen, whose tally slipped one seat to 11, had recently moved his eurosceptic party towards a more conciliatory EU stance.

The two other parties which lost their leaders — the Centre Democrats and the Minority Party — both failed to win any seats in parliament.