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Denmark election delivers first woman PM

DENMARK: Denmark's centre-left was on Friday celebrating victory, and the country's first woman prime minister, after narrowly winning a general election to end a decade in opposition.

"We did it!" opposition leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt, 44, told ecstatic supporters, as final results showed her bloc had won Thursday's vote.

With all the votes from mainland Denmark counted, it was clear the centre-left bloc headed by Thorning-Schmidt had taken 89 seats in Denmark's 179-seat parliament against 86 for exiting Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen's centre-right government and parliamentary supporters.

As the results became clear, her supporters went wild, dancing away to James Brown's "I Feel Good" and waving posters of her smiling face.

Cars honked their horns as they drove past the election party venue, and in Europe's bicycle capital, many supporters on two wheels rang their bells to hail Thorning-Schmidt, the elegant, blond daughter-in-law of former British Labour party leader Neil Kinnock.

Not far away, the atmosphere at the election party held for Rasmussen's Liberal Party was less cheerful.

"Earlier this evening I called Helle Thorning-Schmidt. I congratulated her and told her she now has the chance to form a new government," Rasmussen, 47, told his disappointed supporters.

Rasmussen, whose formation remained the country's biggest and gained a seat from the 2007 election, to 47, insisted his opponent's government would not last.

"This evening I hand the keys to the prime minister's office to Helle Thorning-Schmidt," he said, before adding: "Dear Helle, look after the keys, because you're only borrowing them."

He was expected to submit his resignation to Queen Margrethe later Friday.

A total of 90 seats are needed for an absolute majority in the 179-seat parliament.

Four seats reserved for Denmark's autonomous territories Greenland and the Faroe Islands had yet to be officially tallied and were not yet included in the score, though they were unlikely to reverse the results, according to observers. AFP

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