Social Democrats could come back to power as Denmark votes

Social Democrats could come back to power as Denmark votes
FILE - In this file photo dated Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen delivers the opening speech, at the Danish Parliament, in Copenhagen. Denmark is holding a general election Wednesday June 5, 2019, with the center-left Danish Social Democrats widely expected to make a comeback after four years in opposition to Rasmussen's three-party government coalition. (Liselotte Sabroe/ Ritzau Scanpix FILE via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Voters lined up at polling stations across Denmark Wednesday in a general election to renew the 179-seat Folketing at the end of its four-year term.

Unlike in other European countries, far-right populists don’t seem to be on the rise here, and the center-left Danish Social Democrats may come back to power after four years in opposition, albeit on a tough immigration line.

The five-party so-called red bloc that includes the Social Democrats faces a center-right blue bloc that is losing steam and is splintered into eight parties, of which three are newcomers, including two openly anti-Muslim groups.

The Social Democrats, Denmark’s largest party, have “a positive feeling about this election,” said Nicolai Wammen, the party’s No. 2 official, while warning against calling it a done deal.

Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen’s three-party coalition within the blue bloc hasn’t been campaigning together, and none wants to rely on support from the anti-immigration newcomers, the Hardliner Course and New Right.

The populist Danish People’s Party, which in 2015 took 21% of the vote to become the second-largest party in the country of 5.8 million, has seen its support shrinking among voters and could see it cut in half, according to polls. It had been supporting the minority government.

Polls published Wednesday has the red bloc at nearly 53 percent of the votes.

The Social Democrats have said they want to form a one-party government headed by its leader, Mette Frederiksen who is set to become the country’s youngest ever prime minister. The party has said it will seek support on the right when it comes to immigration issues and on the left for matters like social welfare.

Many Danish People’s Party voters have drifted to the Social Democrats, mainly because of a stricter stance on immigration policy. It’s a position they already had in the 1980s and 1990s, but which they later watered down in a coalition with left-wing parties. They also have voted for several of the center-right government’s laws to tighten immigration.

“There is a limit as to how many people we can take in and preserve (Denmark’s) welfare state,” Wammen said Monday.