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Denmark's election a litmus test for Europe's far-right politics

Denmark's election Thursday is the first national poll in northern Europe to gauge appeal for radical politics since the Norway killings carried out by far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik.

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After a media firestorm over Danish Muslim candidates accused of “infiltrating” politics here, Prime Minister Rasmussen declared a culture war with immigrants and Islam. Not law or economics but a war of values is “decisive” for Denmark’s future, he said.

That wasn’t current Premier Lars Løkke Rasmussen talking about tomorrow's Danish national elections. It was declared by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, now NATO secretary-general, in 2002. It signaled the start of a long accommodation by mainstream Scandinavian politics with a radical right that wants to halt the impact of Muslims on European culture.

Whether that message will still sell is unclear. The Danish economy is less well off. Thursday's election also follows the murderous rampage in Norway of Anders Behring Breivik, whose views on immigration and Islam are similar to those of the radical Danish People's Party (DPP) that has been seen as the power behind the Danish throne for a decade.

Polls show Denmark is about to elect its first female prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who leads a center-left coalition.

Extreme goes mainstream

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