A popular kebab shop in Copenhagen was the somewhat surprising venue for the Danish prime minister’s last public outing before polls opened in the country’s general election. Anders Fogh Rasmussen has spearheaded a crackdown on immigration but there was no evidence of resentment in the restaurant owned and frequented by immigrants. His series of measures tightening asylum laws have found favour with most Danes and he appears on course for re-election.
Rasmussen says the policies should not be misconstrued as anti-immigrant. “People who work in Denmark, who contribute to the Danish society are warmly welcome,” he said while dining on a kebab. He has promised further immigration restrictions if his Liberals are re-elected. That no longer appears the certainty it seemed earlier in the campaign.
The main opposition Social Democrats led by Mogens Lykketoft have enjoyed a late surge in support and have narrowed the government’s lead in the polls to just a few percentage points. Lykketoft has rejected Rasmussen’s claims that he would be soft on immigration. The centre-left leader has urged people to vote to defend the country’s welfare system, which he says is being undermined by the Liberals’ policies.One concern for Rasmussen is the growing unpopularity of Denmark’s participation in the US-led coalition in Iraq. Dane’s initially backed the war but now the majority want their troops to come home. But the government has said they will stay there as long as necessary.