COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The latest on Denmark’s general election (all times local):
The leader of Denmark’s Social Democrats says voters have decided a new direction and a new government in the country’s general elections.
A nearly complete preliminary count from Wednesday’ voting suggests left-leaning parties made gains that if confirmed by final returns would put the Social Democrats back in power after four years in opposition.
Party leader Mette Frederiksen says that “tonight we have gotten a victory” for the center-left. The Social Democrats and four other left-leaning parties appear headed to having 91 seats in the new parliament, one more than a majority.
The Social Democrats are emerging as parliament’s biggest party. It got 26.1% of the votes Wednesday, after a campaign in which the party’s leaders vowed a tough stance against immigration.
Denmark’s center-right prime minister has conceded defeat in general elections where results show left-leaning parties making large gains that will likely put the Social Democrats back in power after four years in opposition.
Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen says he will resign Thursday from the post he has held since 2015. His Liberal Party is getting 23.4% of the votes in Wednesday’s elections, which is an improvement. But a huge loss by the populist Danish People’s Party means he will no longer muster a majority in the 179-seat Folketing.
Loekke Rasmussen says his government will continue as caretaker, and adds that he will recommend a governing coalition with the Social Democrats and his Liberal Party.
Exit polls in Denmark say that the opposition bloc that includes the center-left Social Democrats will get the most votes in the general election.
The polls by broadcaster DR mean that the Social Democrats, which took a tougher stance on immigration, are on course to return to power after four years in opposition.
The party led by Mette Frederiksen got 25.3% of the vote, according to the exit polls and would be supported by other left-leaning parties that also made gains. Together they will get 90 seats – which is a majority.
The center-right side would only get 75 seats in the 179-seat parliament. The remaining four seats are held by lawmakers on the Faeroe Islands and Greenland — two Danish semi-autonomous territories.
And unlike in other European countries, far-right populists aren’t on the rise. Denmark’s second-largest party, the populist Danish People’s Party, which has been supporting the minority government, got 9.8% compared to 21.1% in 2015, according to the DR exit polls.
The DR exit polls were based on 4,550 people who were interviewed after casting their ballots.
Polling stations across Denmark have opened 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.