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Danish opposition Social Democrats climb in poll

By Reuters

Denmark's opposition Social Democratic Party has extended its lead among voters over the government coalition partners in early campaigning for elections this year, a new opinion poll showed on Friday.

Support for the Social Democrats rose to 31.2 per cent in the Greens agency poll conducted on Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, from 29.5 per cent in a similar survey in mid-January, financial daily Borsen said.

With a further slip in support for the governing Liberal and Conservative parties, the Social Democrats have built a lead of 4.5 per centage points over the combined support for the two coalition parties, the poll showed.

The poll also indicated that the "Red bloc" of the Social Democrats and their allies would win a majority of 98 seats against 77 for the "Blue bloc" of the ruling coalition and its allies and sweep to power after a decade in opposition. Liberal Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen must hold parliamentary elections by mid-November, but he can call a snap ballot at just three weeks' notice and many commentators expect he will do that this spring, possibly in April or May.

Rasmussen will face a tough challenge from Social Democrat leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who would likely become prime minister at the head of a leftist coalition government if her party and allies won the election.

The looming election campaign is likely to focus on domestic economic issues, including Rasmussen's controversial proposal to abolish a costly early pension scheme which now allows Danes to retire at 60 instead of the normal 65.