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Ruling Conservative-Led Bloc Wins Norway’s National Elections Ruling Conservative-Led Bloc Wins Norway’s National Elections
(35 minutes later)
OSLO — The coalition led by the center-right Conservative Party won the final round of Norway’s national elections on Monday, in what was seen as a referendum on taxes, immigration, energy policy and European integration.OSLO — The coalition led by the center-right Conservative Party won the final round of Norway’s national elections on Monday, in what was seen as a referendum on taxes, immigration, energy policy and European integration.
With some 95 percent of the votes counted, Prime Minister Erna Solberg declared victory late Monday night. “We campaigned on new ideas and better solutions, and we have shown that those ideas work, she said. “We get four more years, because we have delivered results.”With some 95 percent of the votes counted, Prime Minister Erna Solberg declared victory late Monday night. “We campaigned on new ideas and better solutions, and we have shown that those ideas work, she said. “We get four more years, because we have delivered results.”
Ms. Solberg, 56, and her main coalition partner, the anti-tax, anti-immigration Progress Party, will wind up with 89 seats in the unicameral, 169-seat Parliament, assuming they have the continued support of two smaller centrist parties. Another coalition led by the center-left Labor Party won 85 seats. Jonas Gahr Store, the leader of the Labor Party and Ms. Solbert’s chief opponent, called the results “a huge disappointment” in a concession speech. “We will learn and evaluate,” he added. “We are coming back to set the agenda for this country Ms. Solberg, 56, and her main coalition partner, the anti-tax, anti-immigration Progress Party, will control 89 seats in the unicameral, 169-seat Parliament, assuming they have the continued support of two smaller centrist parties. Jonas Gahr Store, the leader of the Labor Party and Ms. Solbert’s chief opponent, called the results “a huge disappointment” in a concession speech. “We will learn and evaluate,” he added. “We are coming back to set the agenda for this country
Norway, Western Europe’s top oil and gas producer — with a $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund and a reputation as one of the world’s happiest nations — has been spared some of the polarization and discord that have afflicted major liberal democracies. Its politics, though, did shift rightward in the last national elections, in 2013, when the Conservative Party came to power, after eight years of control by Labor.Norway, Western Europe’s top oil and gas producer — with a $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund and a reputation as one of the world’s happiest nations — has been spared some of the polarization and discord that have afflicted major liberal democracies. Its politics, though, did shift rightward in the last national elections, in 2013, when the Conservative Party came to power, after eight years of control by Labor.
In Norway, which has multiple parties and proportional voting, it is effectively impossible for any party to secure an outright majority.In Norway, which has multiple parties and proportional voting, it is effectively impossible for any party to secure an outright majority.
Before the election, the Green Party, which advocates curbing Arctic oil exploration, seemed to have be gaining popularity and there was speculation that it could provide the edge to a Labor-led government. But the Greens won just one seat in Parliament, which is what they had before.Before the election, the Green Party, which advocates curbing Arctic oil exploration, seemed to have be gaining popularity and there was speculation that it could provide the edge to a Labor-led government. But the Greens won just one seat in Parliament, which is what they had before.
“From a comparative perspective,” Harald Baldersheim, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Oslo, said before the race was decided, “Norwegian politics has never been — and is not — very polarized. Both blocs are gravitating toward the center. In this sense, not much is at stake.”“From a comparative perspective,” Harald Baldersheim, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Oslo, said before the race was decided, “Norwegian politics has never been — and is not — very polarized. Both blocs are gravitating toward the center. In this sense, not much is at stake.”
The next government, Mr. Baldersheim said, will face pressure over Norway’s relationship with the European Union. Norway is not a member of the bloc, but, along with Iceland and Liechtenstein, it is part of the European Economic Area and the European internal market, and is governed by the same basic rules that guarantee the movement of goods, services, capital and people.The next government, Mr. Baldersheim said, will face pressure over Norway’s relationship with the European Union. Norway is not a member of the bloc, but, along with Iceland and Liechtenstein, it is part of the European Economic Area and the European internal market, and is governed by the same basic rules that guarantee the movement of goods, services, capital and people.
As in Britain, which historically has had close ties to Norway, relations with Europe are a touchy subject, as is immigration. Norway’s population of 5.3 million is still fairly homogeneous, but it is becoming increasingly diverse.As in Britain, which historically has had close ties to Norway, relations with Europe are a touchy subject, as is immigration. Norway’s population of 5.3 million is still fairly homogeneous, but it is becoming increasingly diverse.
The right-wing Progress Party, founded in 1973, is more moderate than its counterparts in Scandinavia: the far-right Sweden Democrats and the Danish People’s Party, which are largely considered outside the mainstream. Unlike those parties, the Progress Party has been part of day-to-day governance, controlling major portfolios like finance, transportation and oil.The right-wing Progress Party, founded in 1973, is more moderate than its counterparts in Scandinavia: the far-right Sweden Democrats and the Danish People’s Party, which are largely considered outside the mainstream. Unlike those parties, the Progress Party has been part of day-to-day governance, controlling major portfolios like finance, transportation and oil.
“The four years of coalition government has tamed the Progress Party and made it harmless,” Mr. Baldersheim said.“The four years of coalition government has tamed the Progress Party and made it harmless,” Mr. Baldersheim said.
Svein Tore Marthinsen, an independent political commentator, said that the Progress Party had prompted a more restrictive stance on migration and asylum, as well as some tax cuts and some increased spending on infrastructure, but that the party had not carried out its promise to reduce bureaucracy.Svein Tore Marthinsen, an independent political commentator, said that the Progress Party had prompted a more restrictive stance on migration and asylum, as well as some tax cuts and some increased spending on infrastructure, but that the party had not carried out its promise to reduce bureaucracy.
Mr. Gahr Store, 57, unusual for a Labor politician, is the heir to a fortune, in fireplace manufacturing. He has been criticized in the press for investing in overseas venture capital funds that do not abide by rules as strict as those followed by the sovereign wealth fund, which is commonly called the Oil Fund. Mr. Gahr Store, who has served as foreign minister and health minister, has also faced accusations in the news media of not paying full taxes on improvements to a country home that he made in 2011.Mr. Gahr Store, 57, unusual for a Labor politician, is the heir to a fortune, in fireplace manufacturing. He has been criticized in the press for investing in overseas venture capital funds that do not abide by rules as strict as those followed by the sovereign wealth fund, which is commonly called the Oil Fund. Mr. Gahr Store, who has served as foreign minister and health minister, has also faced accusations in the news media of not paying full taxes on improvements to a country home that he made in 2011.
Ms. Solberg ran a gaffe-free campaign, but faced pressure about provocative comments made by her hard-line integration and immigration minister, Sylvi Listhaug of the Progress Party, who recently caused a furor by saying that some immigrant-heavy areas of Sweden had become “no-go zones.”Ms. Solberg ran a gaffe-free campaign, but faced pressure about provocative comments made by her hard-line integration and immigration minister, Sylvi Listhaug of the Progress Party, who recently caused a furor by saying that some immigrant-heavy areas of Sweden had become “no-go zones.”
Both candidates were active on social media. Mr. Gahr Store’s campaign posted footage of him voting on Facebook. Ms. Solberg used the platform to post a message thanking the Norwegian people “for letting me be your prime minister the last four years.”Both candidates were active on social media. Mr. Gahr Store’s campaign posted footage of him voting on Facebook. Ms. Solberg used the platform to post a message thanking the Norwegian people “for letting me be your prime minister the last four years.”
On YouTube, as part of a campaign to stimulate youth engagement, the candidates were challenged to do impromptu sketches. (Ms. Solberg drew a school and a treasure chest to reflect her commitment to educational improvements and lower taxes; Mr. Gahr Store drew figures and a map that he said depicted his commitment to lowering climate emissions.)On YouTube, as part of a campaign to stimulate youth engagement, the candidates were challenged to do impromptu sketches. (Ms. Solberg drew a school and a treasure chest to reflect her commitment to educational improvements and lower taxes; Mr. Gahr Store drew figures and a map that he said depicted his commitment to lowering climate emissions.)
A third candidate, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, the leader of the center-right Agrarian Party received attention for his resistance to the government’s plan to consolidate local governments. Mr. Slagsvold Vedum also called for Norway to renegotiate its economic arrangements with the European Union. He barnstormed the country during the campaign and handed out 10,000 cups of coffee, by his estimate, while being trailed by chefs and musicians.A third candidate, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, the leader of the center-right Agrarian Party received attention for his resistance to the government’s plan to consolidate local governments. Mr. Slagsvold Vedum also called for Norway to renegotiate its economic arrangements with the European Union. He barnstormed the country during the campaign and handed out 10,000 cups of coffee, by his estimate, while being trailed by chefs and musicians.
His party won 18 seats, up from 10.
Voter turnout in Norway is typically high; in the 2013 elections, it exceeded 78 percent.Voter turnout in Norway is typically high; in the 2013 elections, it exceeded 78 percent.