Danish PM to push forward with pledges after victory

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COPENHAGEN, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen vowed today to honour promises to cut taxes and keep the flow of asylum-seekers in check after his election victory.

Rasmussen, 54, defeated 40-year-old Social Democrat leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt in Tuesday's parliamentary election, winning the slimmest possible majority for his sitting Liberal-Conservative coalition government.

''We will do our best to achieve a broad majority in several areas. The first area is welfare quality reform, for which I would very much like to have a broad agreement in parliament,'' he said at a traditional post-election debate at the Danish National Press Club.

Under Rasmussen, the number of foreigners granted asylum in Denmark fell nearly 80 per cent to 1,095 in 2006 from 5,156 in 2000. The prime minister has also delivered two rounds of tax cut since winning power and has promised more next year and in 2009.

Analysts predicted he would also use his new mandate to resist big salary rises in tough public sector wage talks next year and may take the opportunity to make cabinet changes.

''I definitely think there will be a major shuffle of the government,'' said Copenhagen University politics professor Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard.

The prime minister called the election 15 months earlier than required in what analysts said was a bid to capitalise on a strong economy and 33-year low unemployment.

His Liberal-Conservative coalition and its far-right ally -- the Danish People's Party (DPP) -- took a total of 89 seats in the 179-seat parliament. A supporting party won one of two seats in Danish territory the Faroe Islands, sealing a majority.

''Historically there has never been a Liberal (leader) that held power in three consecutive elections. It's a unique achievement the Liberals largely have Rasmussen to thank for,'' right-wing daily Jyllands-Posten said in an editorial.

The paper said the victory was a sign Denmark was now solidly centre-right after decades of dominance by a large Social Democratic party.

NEW ALLIANCE ROLE Ahead of yesterday's vote, it looked as though Rasmussen would need the added muscle of the fledgling New Alliance party, founded six months ago by Syrian-born Danish Muslim Naser Khader, to govern. But in the end he kept his majority without.

Now he has secured victory without the New Alliance, Rasmussen is expected to make few real concessions to the party.

Kasper Hansen, a University of Copenhagen political scientist, said the New Alliance's raison d'etre was to counter the power of Pia Kjaersgaard's anti-immigrant DPP.

''Now they are not needed. Fogh Rasmussen will work to get a more comfortable majority in parliament, but now he doesn't need the New Alliance,'' Hansen said.

Kurrild-Klitgaard said Rasmussen may look to New Alliance to pass such measures as tax reform, but would not need their votes if it came to its survival in parliament.

''Certainly if it comes to a life-or-death situation for the government, he will not need them, '' he said.

Rasmussen said today he would seek the widest possible support on plans to get Danes working to ease the pressures of a job boom and his push on renewable energy.

Rasmussen unseated a tired Social Democrat government in 2001 with promises to lighten the burden on the world's second most heavily taxed nation and to crack down on asylum-seekers.

In 2005, he won again with similar pledges.


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