Denmark leader calls election date
(AP) Denmark's prime minister called elections for September 15 on Friday, saying a new parliament must be formed as soon as possible to approve his government's $2.1 billion stimulus package.
The timing is not optimal for Lars Loekke Rasmussen's center-right government. Denmark's economy slid back into recession in the first quarter, and recent polls show the left-wing opposition overtaking his two-party minority coalition and its ally, the nationalist Danish People's Party.
But time was running out — the vote needed to be held before mid-November. In Denmark the prime minister can call elections at any time, but no later than four years after the last vote, which was held on November 13, 2007.
In a televised statement to reporters in Copenhagen, Loekke Rasmussen said it was necessary to hold the elections before Parliament reconvenes in October after its summer recess, so that lawmakers can vote on the government's 10.8 billion kroner ($2.1 billion) stimulus package immediately.
Announced earlier this week, the reforms envision jump-starting Denmark's sluggish housing market by speeding up public construction projects and suspending some housing taxes and fees for registering property deeds.
"In the middle of a worldwide debt crisis, Denmark stands before a clear choice: Uncontrolled debt or lasting welfare," Loekke Rasmussen told reporters. "The solution is not creating more debts and higher taxes. The government has set a steady course and that must not be jeopardized."
Opposition leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt, of the Social Democrats, welcomed the election, saying Denmark needs a fresh start after 10 years of centre-right governments.
"Denmark has hit a standstill," she said. "The election gives Danes an opportunity to chart a new course for Denmark."
The country of 5.6 million people fell into recession in the first three months of this year, when gross domestic product shrank for the second consecutive quarter.