Norway’s centre-left heads to election victory
Labour Party, two allies hold balance of power
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.