Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has called a general election for Tuesday, November 1st, seven months ahead of the end of her term in office.
Ms Frederiksen, who has headed the Social Democratic minority government since June 2019, has seen her popularity dwindle in recent weeks due to her role in a pandemic-era decision to wipe out Denmark’s entire captive mink population.
Polls show that the centre-left bloc is neck-and-neck with the centre-right opposition, which includes parties that want to reduce immigration.
In June, a Danish parliament-appointed commission harshly criticised Ms Frederiksen’s government for its decision to cull millions of healthy mink at the height of the coronavirus pandemic to protect humans from a mutation of the virus.
The election will select members of the 179-seat Folketing, or parliament.
As she announced the poll, Ms Frederiksen said: “We want a broad government with parties on both sides of the political middle.”
She admitted that “it is, of course, peculiar to have a general election in the middle of an international crisis.”
Ms Frederiksen has recently been speaking openly about governing with some of the parties that are part of the centre-right opposition.
She became Denmark’s youngest prime minister when she took office aged 41 in 2019.
She reached out to other political parties, including the opposition, to help steer the Scandinavian country through the Covid-19 pandemic and later teamed up with the opposition to hike Danish defence spending in the wake of the March 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
She also is a staunch supporter of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
After the report on the mink culling was published, one of the government’s centre-left allies, the Social Liberal Party, stood up against Ms Frederiksen and criticised her for her handling of the mink issue.
Ms Frederiksen has insisted that she didn’t know the culling decision was unlawful, saying it was “based on a very serious risk assessment.” A law was passed shortly after to make it legal.