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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 October 2007, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
Denmark announces snap elections
Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Mr Rasmussen has been prime minister of Denmark since 2001
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has announced an early election, to be held on 13 November.

Mr Rasmussen's Liberal-Conservative coalition government enjoys a strong lead in opinion polls - attributed to a booming economy and low unemployment.

As PM, Mr Rasmussen has tightened curbs on immigration and sent troops to Iraq.

The government's term was not due to end until February 2009 but the prime minister said he needed a fresh mandate to carry out public sector reforms.

"Quality reform should be agreed in parliament with the widest possible majority and within a responsible economic framework," he told parliament.

"We're asking voters to renew and extend the mandate" of the government, he said.

Mr Rasmussen's party is due in December to enter talks with public sector employees demanding higher wages.

Opinion polls suggest 35% of Danes approve of his coalition government and its ally, the right-wing People's Party.

The polls suggest the opposition Social Democrats only have the support of 25% of Danes.

EU issue

Mr Rasmussen has this year followed through with his promise to cut taxes, while introducing moves designed to draw support away from the Social Democrats.

He has withdrawn Danish ground troops from Iraq, proposed an increase in welfare spending and softened his stance on refugees with children.

Mr Rasmussen also recently joined other EU leaders in agreeing a treaty to replace the bloc's doomed constitution.

Like the Social Democrat leader, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, he opposes a referendum on the treaty.

However, Ms Thorning-Schmidt is under pressure from her party colleagues to commit to a referendum.

Speculation is growing that her party will end up promising Danes a referendum during the election campaign.

Were such a referendum to be eventually held, other nations in the EU could be forced to follow suit with their own votes.

Correspondents say this is an outcome feared by the leaders of countries such as the UK and France, where there are powerful Euro-sceptic lobbies.



SEE ALSO
Denmark to pull troops from Iraq
21 Feb 07 |  Middle East

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