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Norway

Norway's Labor leader Jonas Gahr Støre (2nd R) cheers after seeing the exit poll results of the Labor Party's election event in Folkets Hus, in Oslo, during the 2021 Norwegian parliamentary elections. (Photo: Javad Parsa/NTB/AFP via Getty Images)

Norway's Leftist Opposition on Track to Oust Conservative Government

"We will now give Norway a new government and a new course," declared Labor's Jonas Gahr Støre, who is expected to be the next prime minister.

Common Dreams staff

After eight years of Conservative Party rule under Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Norway's leftist opposition parties on Monday were headed for a "landslide" win that would task Labor's Jonas Gahr Støre with forming a coalition government, according to preliminary results from the nation's parliamentary election.

The Associated Press reported that "with a projection based on a preliminary count of nearly 93% of the votes, the Labor Party and its two allies—the Socialist Left and the euroskeptic Center Party—would hold 100 seats in the 169-seat Stortinget assembly while the current government would get 68. One seat was still unsure."

The coalition parties need at least 85 of the 169 seats in the Norwegian parliament to secure a majority. Four parties on the right and five on the left are expected to win some seats.

The AP noted Monday evening that the 61-year-old Labor leader is already planning for the country's future:

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

Labor 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.

Recent research has raised concerns about the impact that blue hydrogen has on the planet, and progressives have long criticized carbon capture and storage as a distraction from the rapid transition away from fossil fuels that experts warn is necessary to combat the worsening climate emergency.

Climate policy was one of the focal points in the oil-rich nation's new election. According to Reuters, Gahr Støre told reporters on Sunday after casting his ballot, "I believe that calling time on our oil and gas industry is the wrong industrial policy and the wrong climate policy."

In an earlier report, the news agency highlighted that "several small parties—the Socialist Left, the Liberals, the Greens, and the Reds—seek to halt oil and gas exploration, which brings in almost half the country's export revenues."

As Reuters detailed:

If Labor wins, it faces a… demand from the Socialist Left to stop drilling for new reserves. But [Gahr] Støre's own party is wary of the job losses that could follow, and its other likely partner, the Center Party, favors continued drilling.

The strongest anti-oil stance is taken by the Green Party, which wants to immediately halt exploration and to end all oil and gas output in Norway by 2035. Støre says he will reject the Greens' attempt at setting ultimatums.

In a Politico report last week that pointed out "Norway is the third-largest gas exporter in the world—after Russia and Qatar—and fossil fuels account for about half of its goods exports," the Green leader made clear why the party was in the fight, despite low polling numbers.

"We are here to make sure that nobody forgets the most important issue for this election," the Greens' Une Bastholm told Politico. "It should be climate change."

As expectations of the center-left victory grew on Monday, Lars-Henrik Paarup Michelsen, the director of the Norwegian Climate Foundation, told CNN that "we have three green parties in Norway—the Socialist Party, the Liberal Party, and the Green Party."

"The polls indicate that our next government will be led by the Labor Party. However, Labor will need the votes of at least one green party in order to get a majority in parliament," he added. "Everyone expects that climate policy will be tightened after the election."

CNN noted that the government led by "Solberg, Norway's longest-ever serving PM, has refused to put an end date on fossil fuel production, planning for its continuation beyond 2050."

The other main issue in this election was inequality, which has risen in Norway during this century. As Reuters reported last week:

...Gahr Støre, has pledged to address inequality by offering tax relief to low- and middle-income families and hiking rates for the rich.

"Equal rights and equal opportunity have to be secured," he told Reuters. "[Inequality] ...has been increasing over the last years. So fairer distribution is a foundation of our policy and that will be felt."

The proportion of Norwegian children persistently living in low-income households grew from 3.3% in 2001 to 11.7% in 2019, according to Statistics Norway, while house prices have outpaced salaries, rising sixfold in 30 years.

Solberg on Monday acknowledged her party's anticipated loss, saying that "we knew we needed a miracle—the Conservatives' work session is over," and "I congratulate Jonas Gahr Støre with what looks like a clear majority."


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