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EU elections: Danish centrists perform strongly as nationalists dealt huge defeat

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EU elections: Danish centrists perform strongly as nationalists dealt huge defeat
Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen celebrates the EU election result with Liberal lead candidate Morten Løkkegaard. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix
07:41 CEST+02:00
A number of centrist Danish parties have increased their seats in the European Parliament, while the anti-immigration and EU-sceptic Danish People’s Party suffered a heavy defeat.

The Venstre (Liberal) party, led domestically by Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, increased its seats from two to four, including a new seat which will be allocated to Denmark after the UK leaves the EU due to Brexit.

With a vote share of 23.5 percent, the Liberals are the largest Danish party in the EU parliament.

Two centre-left parties, the Social Liberals (Radikale Venstre) and Socialist People’s Party, both moved from one to two seats, while the left-wing Red Green Alliance also gained a seat.

The Social Democrats increased their vote share by 2.4 percent and remain on three seats, while the Conservatives also retain their single seat despite taking 2.9 percent fewer votes than at the last election.

The biggest losers of the night by far were the populist Danish People’s Party, who took over a quarter of all the votes at the previous election in 2014. With 10.7 percent of the vote this time around, the party has suffered losses of 15.9 percent and goes from four seats in the parliament down to one.

Meanwhile, the far-left People’s Movement Against the EU (Folkebevægelsen mod EU), which has consistently held a seat in previous elections, also saw its vote share more than halved, from 8.1 percent to 3.7 percent, and loses its spot in the parliament.

All figures come from public broadcaster DR’s most recent update of the voting count, made in the early hours of Monday.

"All signs suggest that we have had the best EU election ever," Rasmussen said in his election speech on Sunday night, Danish media including Politiken reported.

Danes return to the polls in nine days’ time to vote in the country’s June 5th general election.

“This is a huge victory for the Liberals, to be able to pull out this victory ten days before a general election,” election researcher and professor Kasper Møller Hansen of Copenhagen University told DR.

Rasmussen found it difficult to contain his delight at the result on Sunday.

“Denmark is a wonderful country. It is not a perfect country, but it is the best there is. We can do much on our own, but not everything,” he said according to Ritzau.

Danish People’s Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl accepted the defeat but said it would not have “consequences” for his party.

“We must accept this and battle on. It won’t have any consequences in the party,” Dahl said to Ritzau.

“We run on the politics we have, and voters must make their choice. Of course I feel a responsibility for this downturn. But I don’t know whether we should have done things differently,” he said.

The results in Denmark are in contrast with a number of other EU countries, including the UK, where Nigel Farage’s new anti-EU Brexit Party took 30 percent of the votes while establishment parties the Conservatives and Labour suffered crushing defeats.

In Italy and France nationalists performed strongly, while establishment parties also took a hit in Germany, with Green parties surging. Neighbouring Sweden saw the governing Social Democrats clinch top spot with the far right gaining ground.

READ ALSO: Five things we've learned from the European elections

 
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