By Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Stine Jacobsen
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark's centre-left Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Wednesday called a general election for Nov. 1 and said she would seek to form a broad coalition reaching across political divides at a time of international uncertainty.
Denmark is currently the focal point of a global political crisis after two pipelines carrying gas from Russia to Europe via the Baltic Sea last week suffered damage in what world leaders have called an act of sabotage.
"We want a broad government with parties on both sides of the political centre line," the prime minister, who currently heads a one-party minority government with her Social Democratic Party, said in a speech.
"With the difficult times we live in and the hardships the world is facing ... the time has come to test a new form of government".
Leaders of the two largest opposition parties, the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, however, immediately rebuffed the idea of forming a bipartisan government with Frederiksen's party.
"We are not going to form part of a government with the Social Democrats... We will pursue a different economic policy," prime ministerial candidate and Liberal Party leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said shortly after her speech.
Frederiksen, 44, became Denmark's youngest-ever prime minister in 2019, after promising to improve welfare services that had been eroded by liberal economic reforms since the beginning of the century.
After what could be viewed as the most chaotic term to befall a Danish government in decades, the election will serve as a test of the government's handling of COVID and soaring inflation in recent months.
Recent opinion polls show a near dead heat between Frederiksen's Social Democratic minority government and left-wing parties supporting it, and a right-wing bloc led by the either the Conservative or the Liberal party.
Frederiksen was generally been applauded for steering Denmark through the coronavirus pandemic with relatively few health and economic consequences, receiving massive popular backing for her swift lockdown of society in the early stages of the pandemic in 2020.
But her decision later that year to cull all mink in the country over fears of spreading a mutated coronavirus variant drew criticism when it emerged there had been no legal basis to call for healthy mink to be culled.
Frederiksen eventually avoided any legal consequences, but polls have since showed a fading support and the scandal also shortened her tenure when political ally, the Social Liberals, threatened a no confidence vote unless an election was called.
(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen and Nikolaj Skydsgaard; editing by John Stonestreet, Terje Solsvik and Toby Chopra)