Right-Wing Extremists Dealt a Blow by Danish Prime Minister

(Bloomberg) -- As Denmark prepares for elections on June 5, Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen says he would rather abandon some of his traditional supporters on the far right than let their “extreme opinions” influence politics in his country.

The announcement, made on Thursday in connection with a new book Rasmussen has published, had opened the door to a grand coalition between the prime minister’s center-right Liberal party and the center-left Social Democrats, led by Mette Frederiksen. But at a press conference later in the day, she rejected Rasmussen’s overtures.

“I have a slightly hard time believing this is genuine,” she said, according to newswire Ritzau.

Rasmussen is throwing down the gauntlet as the number of far-right parties in Denmark grows. Since the last election four years ago, two more groups with extremist views have entered the political arena, with polls suggesting that both would get enough votes to make it into parliament. One party is led by a convicted racist, Rasmus Paludan, whose claim to fame is a series of stunts in which he desecrated the Koran in mostly Muslim neighborhoods, provoking protests.

“I don’t want to make myself dependent on extreme opinions,” Rasmussen said, according to comments published by Berlingske. “I think that Denmark would be better served with unity rather than division. I think that it’s better to build bridges across differences in the middle, than to let the extreme political wings rip the foundations out of our society.”

Rasmussen, 55, currently rules a minority coalition that has been able to hold on to office with the support in parliament of the anti-immigration and euroskeptic Danish People’s Party. Most recently, the group has demanded that Denmark exit the Schengen agreement that allows passport-free travel across Europe, in its latest attempt to crack down on the movement of foreigners.

Frederiksen, 41, has also had difficulties with the group of parties with which her Social Democrats have traditionally formed a bloc. That’s in part because she has embraced some of the stricter immigration rhetoric that once fed the popularity of the Danish People’s Party.

Most polls show that Frederiksen is set to get the most votes, making it likely that she will be Denmark’s next prime minister.

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