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Europa afwezig in politieke discussie Deense verkiezingen (en)

Met dank overgenomen van EUobserver (EUOBSERVER), gepubliceerd op vrijdag 9 november 2007, 17:24.

EUOBSERVER / COPENHAGEN - While Danish politicians enter the last days of debates before Tuesday's general elections, Europe remains completely absent from the political debate.

Liberal prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen stands a good chance of being voted back into power for a third period in alliance with the conservative party and backed by the right-wing Danish People's Party - but the race is set to be close.

According to a Gallup poll published by Berlingske Tidende on Friday (9 November), his current governing alliance would score 87 mandates, just three seats less than needed to form a majority.

The social democrat opposition leader, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, is supported by two smaller centre-left parties. Her alliance is able to muster 77 mandates, according to the latest Gallup poll.

Disagreeing on taxes, welfare, the integration of immigrants, climate policies, health and social affairs, both blocs have avoided discussions about the EU in their campaigning.

The two candidates for the prime minister post support the new EU Reform Treaty, but refuse to take a stand on whether to hold a referendum on the document before an EU summit in December gives the final political approval.

Prime minister Fogh Rasmussen cancelled a promised EU referendum, when French and Dutch voters rejected the previous EU constitution in 2005.

Only Ireland will for sure consult the people on the issue, while Britain's Gordon Brown, under strong to have a referendum, is keeping a close eye on the developments in Denmark.

If 60 members of the Danish parliament sign a petition for a referendum, they are entitled to have one, according to the constitution. According to the latest Gallup poll, 54 members of the new parliament are set to be from parties promising a referendum on the EU treaty.

Meanwhile, European affairs rank very low in priority among the voters, too. Topping the election agenda among voters is welfare, integration, taxes and climate change, while just 3 percent of voters mention the EU and international relations as the most important topic in politics, the Gallup poll showed.

The new man

The colour of the new government as well as the EU referendum will very much depend on the election result for the new king-maker in Danish politics, Mr Naser Khader.

The Syrian-born politician is the leader of the centrist New Alliance, a splinter-party set up in May with the aim of weakening the Danish People's Party's influence.

According to its party programme, New Alliance is supporting a referendum on the EU treaty, including a vote on the Danish opt-outs from existing treaties.

Meanwhile, no less than four of the fourteen Danish MEPs are likely to replace their seat in the European Parliament with one in the Danish Folketing after Tuesday's election.

Not long ago the European Parliament was known as the place for the `has been or never was' politician. But now this appears to be changing.

Ms Thorning-Schmidt started her political carrier as a member of the European Parliament and stands a good chance of becoming the first woman prime minister of Denmark on Tuesday.

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