Danish elections could pave way for a center government .

Polling stations across Denmark opened Tuesday 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 center-left nor the center-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 4 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 supporting Danes amid inflation and soaring energy prices because of Russia’s 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 hike Danish defense spending in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and two center-right opposition lawmakers — Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, the Liberal leader, and Søren Pape Poulsen, who heads the Conservatives.

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% of the vote. He has hinted he could see a ruling coalition with the Social Democrats and could also be considered a prime minister candidate.

On the center-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 hard-line 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 around 7% 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 2% threshold needed to enter parliament. In 2015, the party grabbed 21.1% of the vote.

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 center-right government.

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

Of the 179 seats in the Danish parliament, two come from each of Denmark’s two autonomous territories —the Faeroe Islands and Greenland. Voting was exceptionally held Monday on the Faeroes — Tuesday is a public holiday there – and one seat went to the center-left and one to the center-right in Denmark, Danish broadcaster DR said Tuesday. Voting in Greenland is held Tuesday.

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