Left, right are neck-and-neck as Danes vote in elections

DF, whose members in the past have branded Islam a plague and called for mosques to be shut down, has been more nuanced during the campaign to widen its appeal. Finland and Norway already have rightwing populists in government.

Her centre-left coalition lost its parliamentary majority after the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party made big gains.

“Tonight we have been given an opportunity, but only an opportunity, to take leadership in Denmark,” Rasmussen told supporters in parliament.

The DPP was still coy on Thursday night about joining a centre-right coalition in power.

The DPP, which backed right-wing governments between 2001 and 2011, has yet to say whether it would seek to join a right-wing government.

The opposition bloc, led by Lars Loekke Rasmussen who heads the Liberal Party, was set to get 91 seats in the parliament, versus 84 for the incumbents, with 80 percent of votes counted, according to state broadcaster Danmarks Radio.

Her resignation tendered to Queen Margrethe formally starts the process of forming a new government. “Am I awake, or am I asleep and dreaming?” the founder of the party and ex- chairman, Pia Kjærsgaard, told Danish TV.

If DF could pick up just a little more support before polls close on Sunday, Denmark could be left in a position where its two largest parties are both of the right – a remarkable outcome for what is often considered to be one of Europe’s more liberal nations. Pollster Megafon said some 1,800 interviews were carried out Wednesday and the margin of error was 3 percentage points.

“By demanding tougher asylum rules and increased welfare spending, the Danish People’s Party have appealed to voters who previously voted for (Ramussen’s party) Venstre and the Social Democrats”, said Caspar Dall, political editor of independent daily Information.

“We can look at the figures and see that if we do not do something we will get a massive influx after the summer”, Liberals leader Lars Lokke Rasmussen said.

A teenage girl of immigrant origin giggled after taking a picture of herself and the leader of the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DPP), Kristian Thulesen Dahl.

A new government must tackle very different opinions on EU policies among the winning coalition parties. Mai Mercado, the party’s immigration spokesperson, argued in Berlingske that Christianity was superior to Islam.

The opposition won because Mr Rasmussen, who was also prime minister from 2009 until 2011, was able to direct the focus of the election campaign toward immigration, ” Ms Soerensen said.

Thorning-Schmidt’s government bloc was slightly behind the opposition in four polls published on Monday.

It’s “only an indication of what a representative group of people had voted”, Jensen said. “If peace emerges in the country the refugees come from, then people should go back home”. But she won global plaudits for her statesmanlike handling of terrorist shootings in Copenhagen in February.

Thorning-Schmidt’s approval ratings were stuck in the doldrums for most of her four-year tenure as the economy dipped in and out of recession and her centre-left coalition implemented policies viewed as right-wing, including welfare cuts and corporate tax reductions. In March, in anticipation of the coming election, the Social Democrats launched an advertising campaign hailing its record on clamping down on immigrants.

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p style=”text-align: center;”>Denmark elections

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