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Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 13:58 GMT
Danish PM calls snap election
Danish PM Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
Rasmussen's party has been recovering lost ground
Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen has called a snap election for 20 November.

Recent opinion polls have suggested Mr Rasmussen's Social Democrats are regaining ground they had lost to a centre-right opposition led by the Liberals.

In times of uncertainty four months of election campaigning would not be good for Denmark

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
Under the Danish constitution, the poll could have been held any time before next March, but Mr Rasmussen said a long campaign was not appropriate in the current international situation.

"In times of uncertainty after 11 September and with major decisions to be made on security, four months of election campaigning would not be good for Denmark," he said.

"The world is not the same. In these times of uncertainty, security has to be ensured, increased cohesion and solidarity are needed, Denmark must not be split," Mr Rasmussen said.

The prime minister probably wants to take advantage of the patriarchal role he has built up as prime minister since 11 September

Professor Ole Borre
Aarhus University
The election announcement follows predictions by political analysts that an early poll would allow Mr Rasmussen to capitalise on popular approval of his response to the war on terror.

"The prime minister probably wants to take advantage of the patriarchal role he has built up as prime minister since 11 September," said Professor Ole Borre from Aarhus University.

Mr Rasmussen has been Danish prime minister since January 1993, leading a coalition made up of four centre-left parties.

Support for the Social Democrats had fallen considerably since the last election, but two opinion polls last weekend put them back above the 30% mark - their highest showing in more than a year.

That level of support is still below their showing at the last election in 1998, when they attracted 36% of the vote.

Campaign focus

Mr Rasmussen said an early election would give the government time to prepare for the European Union presidency, in the second half of next year.

The Danish presidency will have to steer attempts to complete the first wave of EU enlargement as the membership negotiations are scheduled to be completed by 2002.

Mr Rasmussen said the election campaign would focus on welfare, health care and immigration policies as important issues.

"Our society is a good house to live in for most of us," he said. "Now we shall renew it and renovate it where necessary."

He also said he aimed to creat a more "robust" and "responsible" 2002 budget to take account of the global economic down turn.

Local elections are also being held on 20 November.

See also:

28 Sep 00 | Europe
Danes say no to euro
27 Sep 00 | Europe
Danish PM's charm offensive
03 Dec 99 | Europe
Danish PM says father a Nazi
06 Mar 01 | Europe
Timeline: Denmark
15 Oct 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Denmark
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