Toronto Star

Norway’s centre-left heads to election victory

Labour Party, two allies hold balance of power

- JAN M. OLSEN

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK—The centre-left bloc headed to a victory in Norway’s elections Monday as official projection­s pointed to the governing Conservati­ves losing power after a campaign dominated by climate change and the future of the country’s oil and gas exploratio­n industry.

With a projection based on a preliminar­y count of nearly 93 per cent of the votes, the Labour Party and its two allies — the Socialist Left and the euroskepti­c Centre Party — would hold 100 seats in the 169-seat Stortinget assembly while the current government would get 68. One seat was still unsure.

As Norway’s largest party, Labour will try to form a coalition government and its chief, 61year-old Jonas Gahr Stoere, is poised to become Norway’s next leader. The Scandinavi­an country is not a member of the European Union.

“We will now give Norway a new government and a new course,” Gahr Stoere said on election night before cheering party members who chanted “Stoere” and clapped. He added that he will in the coming days invite the parties “that want a new change” for talks.

Labour has promised an industrial policy that will funnel support to new green industries, like wind power, “blue hydrogen” that uses natural gas to produce an alternativ­e fuel, and carbon capture and storage, which seeks to bury carbon dioxide under the ocean.

In the 2013 election, Labour was ousted from power, enabling the Conservati­ves’ Erna Solberg to become prime minister and Norway’s longestser­ving leader. Gahr Stoere said Monday that he also wanted to thank Solberg for having been “a good prime minister.”

“We knew we needed a miracle — the Conservati­ves’ work session is over,” Solberg said. “I congratula­te Jonas Gahr Stoere with what looks like a clear majority.”

Her Conservati­ves suffered a setback, losing 4.7 percentage points which was dubbed by Norwegian broadcaste­r NRK as “the election’s biggest loser.” Its former coalition partner, the Progress Party lost 3.4 percentage points, according to a preliminar­y counting of more than 93 per cent of the votes by Norway’s election commission.

The 60-year-old Solberg has been a head of a minority government since 2020 — before then it was coalitions with, among others, the populist Progress Party.

Due to her long tenure, as well as her commitment to economic liberalism, she became known at home as “Iron Erna” — inspired by the late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher who was nicknamed “the Iron Lady” for her firm style.

Solberg was hoping to become the first prime minister to win a third consecutiv­e four-year term.

During her eight-year tenure, Solberg has expanded oil exploratio­n, cut taxes and sought to make public administra­tion more efficient.

Any post-election horse trading is likely to be fraught for the Labour Party and Gahr Stoere. The Socialist Left won’t offer its support lightly and the Center Party is also demanding a more aggressive approach toward shifting to renewable energy.

 ?? JAVAD PARSA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Labour will try to form a coalition government and its chief, Jonas Gahr Stoere, is poised to become Norway’s next leader.
JAVAD PARSA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Labour will try to form a coalition government and its chief, Jonas Gahr Stoere, is poised to become Norway’s next leader.

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