Denmark votes in elections expected to change political landscape - Al Jazeera English

New parties are hoping to enter parliament as polling stations open across the Scandinavian nation for a general vote.

Polling stations across Denmark have opened in a national election expected to change the Scandinavian nation's political landscape, with new parties hoping to enter parliament and others seeing their support dwindle.

Neither the centre left nor the centre right is expected to capture a majority, which is 90 seats in the 179-seat Folketing legislature. That could leave a former prime minister who left his party to create a new one this year, in a kingmaker position with his votes being needed to form a new government.

More than four million Danish voters can choose among 14 parties. Domestic themes have dominated the campaign, ranging from tax cuts and a need to hire more nurses to financially support Danes amid inflation and soaring energy prices because of Russia's all-out war in Ukraine.

At least three politicians are vying to become prime minister. They include Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who steered Denmark through the COVID-19 pandemic and teamed up with the opposition to boost Danish defence spending in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and two centre-right opposition politicians – Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, the Liberal leader, and Søren Pape Poulsen, who heads the Conservatives.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen casts her ballot at a polling station in Hareskovhallen in Vaerloese PM Mette Frederiksen casts her ballot at a polling station in Hareskovhallen in Vaerloese [Sergei Grits/AP]

"We are fighting to the end. It will be a close election," Frederiksen said after voting north of Copenhagen. "I am optimistic but I am not sure of anything."

A former Liberal leader, Lars Løkke Rasmussen created his new centrist party in June.

According to the polls, his Moderates could get as much as 10 percent of the vote. He has hinted he could see a ruling coalition with the Social Democrats and could also be considered a prime ministerial candidate.

On the centre right, two new parties that want to limit immigration are bidding to enter parliament and may push out a third similar group that has had a key role in earlier governments by pushing for stricter migration rules without being inside a governing coalition.

Among them are the Denmark Democrats, created in June by former hardline immigration minister Inger Støjberg.

In 2021, Støjberg was convicted by the rarely used Impeachment Court for ordering in 2016 to separate asylum-seeking couples if one of the partners was a minor.

She has served her 60 days' sentence and is now eligible to run again. Pollsters say her party could get about seven percent of the vote.

That could threaten the once-powerful populist, anti-immigration Danish People's Party, which has been falling apart in recent months amid internal disputes and is hovering around the two percent threshold needed to enter parliament.

In 2015, the party grabbed 21.1 percent of the vote.

People arrive to cast their vote at a polling center located at the Hareskovhallen sports hall located in Vaerlose, near Copenhagen, on November 1, 2022 during the general elections in Denmark People arrive to cast their vote at a polling centre located at the Hareskovhallen sports hall located in Vaerlose, near Copenhagen [Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP]

Støjberg's party is similar to another one – the small nationalistic, anti-immigration New Right party – that is already in parliament. They have called for a broad centre-right government.

Frederiksen has been heading a minority, one-party Social Democratic government since 2019 when she removed Løkke Rasmussen.

Of the 179 seats in the Danish parliament, two come from each of Denmark's two autonomous territories – the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

Voting was exceptionally held on Monday on the Faroes – Tuesday is a public holiday there – and one seat went to the centre left and one to the centre right in Denmark, Danish broadcaster DR said on Tuesday. Voting in Greenland is held on Tuesday.

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