(Bloomberg) -- Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called early elections for Nov. 1 after a parliament ally pressured the Social Democrat leader to let voters judge her role in a botched mink cull.
This summer, Frederiksen received a reprimand for the government’s illegal order in 2020 to cull all Denmark’s 17 million mink due to Covid-19 mutation fears. Her support has slid since the rebuke, and recent polls have indicated that she would lose power to the center-right opposition, in a parallel with neighboring Sweden.
To counter that, Frederiksen, 44, plans to run on a campaign to form a grand coalition that would include her political rivals in the cabinet -- a first such move in more than four decades. The vote is held seven months before a constitutional deadline.
“It’s time to test a new form of government in Denmark,” Frederiksen said in a speech on Wednesday.
Leaders of main opposition parties all rejected the idea of a grand coalition following the prime minister’s speech, citing the mink cull as a reason not to rule with Frederiksen.
Denmark faces an “international crisis on security policy, energy policy and the economy,” Frederiksen said. “The most important political task is to deal with insecurity and get Denmark through the crisis.”
National security issues may provide a late boost to Frederiksen, so far seen as a solid pair of hands in uncertain times, after explosions caused ruptures in the Nord Stream pipelines last week in Denmark’s and neighboring Sweden’s exclusive economic zones in the Baltic Sea.
While neighboring Germany indicated on Friday the blasts were probably perpetrated by Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed the West for sabotaging the pipeline and rejected any responsibility.
Frederiksen had been popular during the first years of her term that began in 2019 as she steered Denmark through the pandemic with fewer deaths and less damage to the economy than most peers. According to a September poll, voters expect health policy, the economy and the environment to dominate the campaigns.
The central bank last month cut its outlook for next year and 2024, saying rising inflation is the economy’s biggest challenge. While unemployment remains close to long-term records, most analysts estimate that the Danish economy is already contracting and that the country will be in a recession in 2023.
Her current allies include the Social-Liberal party, who forced her hand on the vote, as well as the Socialist People’s Party and the Red Green Alliance. She faces an opposition led by three parties that polls indicate could become roughly the same size. The difference between the two blocs has mostly been within the margin of error in recent surveys.
A new right-wing party, the Denmark Democrats, could gain about 10% of the vote, polls show. It was created in June by Inger Stojberg, a former immigration minister of the Liberal party who was briefly jailed earlier this year after an impeachment trial over her illegal order to separate refugee couples in 2016.
(Updates with details in ninth, tenth paragraph.)
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