Denmark's center-right coalition maintained a one-seat majority in national elections on Tuesday, Nov. 14, retaining its hold on government despite losing parliamentary seats overall.
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is set for a third term
Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's Liberal-Conservative coalition and its far-right ally, the Danish People's Party, won 90 seats in the country's 179-member parliament, promising voters lower taxes and a strict asylum policy. The bloc, which now holds the narrowest possible majority, had 94 seats before the elections.
The 90th vote for the coalition came from the Faroe Islands, a Danish territory, and wasn't counted until early Wednesday morning, clinching the coalition's razor-thin majority.
"It's historic that for the third election in a row the Liberals are Denmark's biggest party," said Rasmussen on Tuesday after most of the votes had been counted. The party, which he leads, took 46 seats -- six fewer than in the last national elections in 2005. Their Conservative party coalition partners held steady with 18 seats.
Naser Khader, center, founded the New Alliance this year
Rasmussen's opponent, Social Democratic leader Hell Thorning-Schmidt -- who would have become Denmark's first female prime minister -- was strong in the polls in the runup to the elections, though the incumbent pulled ahead on Tuesday. Thorning-Schmidt's party lost two parliamentary seats, coming in with 45.
Pro-immigrant party enters parliament
Rasmussen is expected to hold talks on whether to include the New Alliance, a party founded in May 2007 by Syrian-born Naser Khader. The New Alliance, whose self-declared aim is to break up the governing bloc and reduce the influence of the Danish People's Party, entered parliament Tuesday with its first five seats.
Khader's party has said it would support Rasmussen in exchange for, among other things, a milder refugee policy. This would likely irk the Danish People's Party, the country's third-largest party and a crucial coalition ally.
Analysts have predicted, however, that positioning such diametrically opposed parties in the government could destabilize the coalition.
Rasmussen's coalition has been hard on refugees
Rasmussen's minority coalition has maintained power only with the support of the anti-immigrant People's Party, which gained one seat in Tuesday's elections for a total of 25. Under the influence of the far-right, the governing bloc has drastically reduced the number of refugees coming to Denmark from 10,000 in 2001 to fewer than 2,000 last year, reported the AFP news agency.
Rasmussen takes advantage of upswing
The Danish prime minister pushed out the Social Democrats to take office in 2001, pledging tax cuts and more stringent asylum laws. He was reelected in 2005 with a commitment to support Denmark's extensive social-welfare system.
Rasmussen had called parliamentary elections 15 months early in what was considered to be an effort to capitalize on the country's strong economy and 33-year-low unemployment rate ahead of tough public-sector wage talks.