The Independent

Left-leaning parties oust Conservati­ves in Norway

- STAFF REPORTER

The leader of Norway’s Labour Party has started talks in an attempt to build a coalition after the centre-left bloc beat the incumbent Conservati­ves and won Norway’s general election.

With all votes now counted, the Labour Party and its two leftleanin­g allies – the Socialist Left and the Euroscepti­c Centre Party – grabbed 100 seats in the 169-seat Stortinget assembly

while the current government would get 68. The last seat is going to a northern Norway health-focused protest party, Pasientfok­us.

The outgoing assembly was 88-81 in favour of the centre-right led by prime minister Erna Solberg, who was ousted after two four-year terms in the job. Her party also suffered a huge loss of nine seats.

Monday’s result means that currently all five Nordic countries now have left-leaning government­s.

Jonas Gahr Stoere, the Labour leader, said he would start talks with Norway’s third largest group, the Centre Party, and its leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum. That party made the largest gain and grabbed nine seats. Mr Gahr Stoere, who is poised to become prime minister, also will meet the media later.

Ms Solberg said yesterday that she would continue at the head of a caretaker government and step down when “a new government is ready”. Ms Solberg would also continue as leader of the Conservati­ves.

The election campaign had focused on the North Sea oil and gas that has helped make Norway one of the world’s wealthiest countries. But fears about the climate crisis have put the future of the industry in doubt. The country’s biggest industry is responsibl­e for over 40 per cent of exports and directly employs more than 5 per cent of the workforce.

On the other hand, Norwegians are among the most climatecon­scious consumers in the world, with most new car purchases now being electric.

Most of Norway’s oil and gas still comes from mature areas in the North Sea, but most of the country’s untapped reserves are in the Barents Sea, above the Arctic Circle. That is a red line for environmen­talists, who could play a crucial role in securing a majority government.

Any post-election horse trading is likely to be fraught for the Labour Party – Norway’s largest party – and Mr Gahr Stoere. The Socialist Left won’t offer its support lightly and the Centre

Party is also demanding a more aggressive approach toward shifting to renewable energy.

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.

Mr Gahr Stoere is a 61-year-old former civil servant. He also owns a large part of his family’s company, and most the fortune there comes from the sale in 1977 of a Norwegian company that made cast iron stoves and fireplaces.

He also served as foreign minister from 2005-2013 under thenprime minister Jens Stoltenber­g. He took over the reins of the party when Stoltenber­g became Nato secretary general.

Nearly 3.9 million Norwegians were eligible and more than 1.6 million of them voted in advance, according to Norway’s election commission. Turnout was 76.5 per cent, down from more than 78 per cent last time.

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 ?? (NTB/AFP/Getty) ?? Labour Party l eader Jonas Gahr Stoere ce l ebrates in Os l o on Monday
(NTB/AFP/Getty) Labour Party l eader Jonas Gahr Stoere ce l ebrates in Os l o on Monday
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