COPENHAGEN (REUTERS) - Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt on Wednesday called an election for June 18 in which her centre-left Social Democrats will face stiff competition from the centre-right Liberals who want more curbs on immigration and limits on state spending.
The election could also lead to the eurosceptic Danish People's Party, winner of European Union (EU) parliamentary elections last year, entering a coalition government should the main opposition Liberals and their allies win, which polls suggest they would.
Polls show the Social Democrats and their supporting parties are about 7-8 percentage points behind the Liberals and their allies.
The premier had until Sept 14 to call for a vote and had been expected to wait to the last minute to have the best chance of a win after her party spent most of its time in power behind the Liberals, sometimes with a gap in the polls of over 16 per cent.
But in recent weeks the government launched a slew of measures, including a 39 billion Danish crown (S$7.7 billion) spending package on Tuesday, and has sharpened its tone on immigration, proposing cutting benefits to those who could not find jobs in a month.
Declaring again that the economic crisis was finally over, Thorning-Schmidt outlined the progress her government has made before calling for the vote.
"Denmark was hit harder by the crisis than many other countries because the good times had been used badly," she told journalists at a news conference held in her office.
"From day one I have had a clear goal - to bring Denmark out of the crisis with our solidarity and order intact. This has been achieved."