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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tight Contest Predicted as Denmark Goes to the Polls

COPENHAGEN -- Danes voted Tuesday in a tight election that pitted government promises of tax cuts and tough immigration laws against opposition offers of improved welfare and a more compassionate stance on refugees.

Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen called the early poll last month, trusting that his economic record and a crackdown on asylum seekers would secure a third term for his center-right coalition.

Rasmussen has lost the edge he had in polls before the vote call and has been in a tight race with Social Democrat leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt for most of the three-week campaign.

But two polls published Tuesday showed the pendulum swinging back in his favor.

"The numbers got better in the last days so I have a very good feeling about the situation," Rasmussen told reporters before casting his ballot.

Thorning-Schmidt, leader of the four-party opposition, has argued throughout her campaign that it is impossible to have both tax cuts and better welfare services.

"I fought the best campaign I can, now it's up to the electorate," she said.

If Rasmussen wins but fails to command a majority, he will need to reconcile the demands of two divergent groups: the anti-immigrant Danish People's Party and New Alliance, a centrist party led by Naser Khader, a Syrian-born Danish Muslim .

Voters have said they are now more concerned about the health of the welfare system than about immigration, the hot topic of the 2001 and 2005 elections.

This shift may count against Rasmussen, who currently relies on the support of the far-right DPP to govern.

Khader has said he will back Rasmussen as prime minister, but does not support the policies of the DPP.