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Denmark’s Incumbent Gov’t Wins 2nd Term

February 8, 2005

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) _ Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s center-right government won its second term Tuesday as Denmark voters embraced its plans to keep immigration in check and taxes from rising.

Opposition leader Mogens Lykketoft conceded defeat in the nationwide parliamentary vote, acknowledging that the government had made ``a much stronger impact that we have.″

With most of the ballots tallied, the governing bloc of Liberals, Conservatives and the anti-immigration Danish Peoples Party had 55 percent and was projected to control 96 seats in the 179-seat parliament, called the Folketing.

The Social Democratic-led opposition had 45 percent and was expected to end up with 79 seats.

The four remaining seats go to the Faeroe Islands and Greenland, both semi-independent Danish territories.

Fogh Rasmussen called for early elections in January, banking on the popularity of his government’s push to preserve Denmark’s welfare state, keep immigration under control and prevent taxes, the second highest in Europe, from rising.

The results mirrored polls released ahead of the voting predicted an easy win for the 52-year-old Fogh Rasmussen and his government.

The issue of Iraq and Denmark’s 501 troops stationed there was largely ignored during the campaign.

Any decision on whether Denmark remains in Iraq will come by June when lawmakers decide whether to extend the troops’ mandate by another six months.

``We might make some adjustments in the spring,″ Fogh Rasmussen said in recent days.

Both campaigns focused on how to improve the country’s cradle-to-grave welfare state and keeping immigration controlled, leaving little room for other issues such as Denmark’s military presence in Iraq.

The sound economy helped the government, with this year’s economic growth forecast at 2.4 percent, mirroring last year’s. Unemployment, however, has risen steadily to 6.2 percent after hitting 25-year lows of about 5 percent in early 2002.

Both sides campaigned by bombarding voters with similar promises to create more jobs and improve education and health care, while at the same time freezing taxes.

The government is promising 60,000 new jobs by 2010, outdoing the Social Democrats’ pledge of 50,000.

``It has been quite comic with all the promises they have made,″ said Anne Grethe Stahl, a 56-year-old consultant, after she cast her ballot in Copenhagen.

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