Danish PM resigns after centre right wins vote

Liberal leader to start talks on forming a Cabinet with a populist, anti-immigration party

COPENHAGEN — Denmark’s centre-left prime minister resigned Friday, paving the way for the opposition Liberal leader to start tough talks on forming a Cabinet with a populist, anti-immigration party that was the big winner in this week’s general election.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who also is quitting as Social Democratic leader, presented her resignation to Queen Margrethe at the royal palace on Friday.

The Danish People’s Party that wants to limit the European Union’s influence over the Scandinavian country, made large gains in Thursday’s elections and overtook Lars Loekke Rasmussen’s Liberal Party as Denmark’s second largest party.

The bloc led by Loekke Rasmussen, a former prime minister, secured the 90 seats necessary for a majority in Parliament. To form a government, he needs to include the Danish People’s Party that surged to 21 per cent, in talks expected to start later Friday.

Before the vote, the centre-right parties endorsed British Prime Minister David Cameron’s bid for EU reforms, which suggests that Denmark, too, may consider a looser relationship with the union.

The Danish People’s Party also has called for border controls to be reintroduced on the boundaries with Germany and Sweden. That’s controversial among many EU members who feel it would challenge the spirit of a borderless Europe.

Kasper Moeller Hansen, a political science professor with Copenhagen University, said talks will take weeks, adding Loekke Rasmussen has to “try to figure out that relationship with the Danish People’s Party.”

Loekke Rasmussen wrote on Facebook that “difficult negotiations lie ahead.”

Even though the Danish People’s Party has more seats than the Liberal Party, nothing indicates its leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl could become prime minister. The centre-right parties have said they want Loekke Rasmussen as prime minister

Turnout was 85.8 per cent in Thursday’s vote, according to the Interior Ministry.

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