Norway’s centre-left wins elections after 8 years of conservative rule

The leader of the Norwegian Labor Party was due to launch negotiations on Tuesday to form a coalition government after his party succeeded in ending eight years of Tory rule in a campaign focused on the country’s oil industry and climate change.

Preliminary results showed Labor, along with their left allies from the Socialist Left and the Center Eurosceptic Party, won 100 seats out of the 169 seats in the Stortinget assembly. This victory will make the entire Nordic region ruled by left-wing parties.

The conservative party of outgoing Prime Minister Erna Solberg suffered a heavy defeat, losing 9 seats and winning only 37, the coalition partner, the Progress Party, also losing MPs.

The Center Party made the biggest gains in the election, securing nearly 14% of the vote, an increase of 3.6 percentage points.

Jonas Gahr Stoere, the Labor leader, has announced that he will start talks with Center Party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, a farmer turned politician, to join his future government in the country, which is not a member of the ‘EU.

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

Erna Solberg has said she will step down after eight years in power as soon as a new government is ready, with a Stoere-led cabinet able to take office in mid-October.

Gahr Stoere must respond to voters’ concerns about global warming and the widening wealth gap while ensuring that any transition away from oil production – and the jobs it creates – is gradual.

Climate change dominated the electoral debate as Gahr Stoere focused on promoting his party’s support for a new climate approach. The new prime minister’s industrial policies would include strengthening green industries such as wind power, “blue hydrogen” which uses natural gas to produce an alternative fuel, and carbon capture and storage.

The campaign also focused on oil and gas from the North Sea, which has made Norway one of the richest countries in the world. The recent UN report on climate change has given new impetus to the debate on the future of the industry, which accounts for over 40 percent of Norway’s exports and directly employs over 5 percent of the workforce. -work.

The debate centered on exploring the country’s untapped oil and gas reserves in the Barents Sea above the Arctic Circle, which are seen as a red line by environmentalists who could play the role of maker. kings in the next government.

In particular, Stoere will face a challenge in trying to convince its coalition partners to compromise on where to let the oil companies explore for hydrocarbons. He must also reach a consensus within the center-left camp on reducing his country’s emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

“The likely trade-off is to restrict exploration, and less explored and mature areas are easier to stop,” said Baard Lahn, a researcher at the Oslo-based climate think tank CICERO. Reuters.

“In addition, the industry has indicated that it is less interested in these areas at this time. This is a possible outcome, but exactly what it will look like, there are many possibilities, ”he added.

Climate activists and green political parties have seen their support bolstered by ordinary Norwegians, who are considered one of the most climate-conscious consumers in the world. For example, official data in Norway shows that most car buyers are now turning to electronic vehicles.

Any post-election bargaining is likely to be heavy for Labor and Gahr Stoere. The socialist left will not offer its support lightly, and the Center Party is also demanding a more aggressive approach towards the switch to renewables.

Gahr Stoere is a former civil servant and businessman elected to the Stortinget in 2009. He was Foreign Minister between 2005 and 2013 in the previous Labor government of Jens Stoltenberg before taking the leadership of the party when Stoltenberg became general secretary of NATO.

Almost 3.9 million Norwegians were eligible to vote and more than 1.6 million of them voted early, according to the Norwegian Election Commission. The turnout was 76.3 percent, compared to over 78 percent in this country of 5.3 million voters.

Additional reports by agencies

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