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Danish PM's party dealt blow at local election, Social Democrats gain

Denmark’s Lars Lokke Rasmussen listens during a news conference in the Hague, the Netherlands April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen’s Liberal Party suffered losses in Denmark’s local elections, a possible bellwether for the next national election, which is to be held no later than mid-2019.

The center-right Liberal Party received 23.1 percent of the votes in Tuesday’s election, 3.5 percentage points less than in 2013. The Social Democrats gained 3 percentage points to 32.5 percent.

The Social Democrats won the leadership of four of Denmark’s five regions, and in at least 40 of the 98 municipalities, including the four largest cities. Coalition talks are still ongoing in some municipalities.

The results are seen as a boost for Mette Frederiksen who took over the Social Democratic leadership after former Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt failed to extend her rule at the 2015 national election.

“The Danes have said that it is more important to take good care of our welfare, rather than to get tax cuts,” Social Democrat spokesman Nicolai Wammen said, alluding to the government’s plans to cut taxes next year.

Rasmussen was “relatively satisfied” with the result, he told broadcaster TV2. A spokesman for his party said the election results were mainly driven by local agendas rather than national level politics.

The support for government ally Danish People’s Party fell 1.3 percentage points to 8.8 percent, contrary to some predictions ahead of the elections.

Reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Alison Williams