Norway has been at the centre of European attention today due to the country’s parliamentary elections taking place. With the polling stations now closed and almost all of the ballots counted, it’s time to figure out whether the outgoing government managed to get enough votes for a historic re-election. It would be the first time a right-wing administration serves a second term in Norway’s history.
The exit polls reconfirm the centre-left Labour Party as the most popular party in the country, collecting 27,5% of the preferences. Right behind are the Conservatives, the party leading the outgoing government coalition, with 25,3%. These results are not a surprise: opinion polls leading up to the election had prospected a tight race with figures around the 25% mark for both parties.
Coming up behind them is the other party which makes up the 2013 minority government, the Progress Party, with 15%. While both Progress and the Conservatives have gotten less votes than during the last election, together they are still prospected to gain 73 seats in the Storting – way more than Labour’s 49. While that falls short of the 85-seat working majority, they can count on 16 additional seats from two other parties providing a confidence and supply agreement; 8 seats will go both to the Liberals and to the Christian Democrats, which would be more than enough to obtain a working majority.
On the other hand, the left wing is presenting a disunited front, and its performance in these elections has been less than stellar. No other party seems willing to form a coalition with Labour, especially given its lukewarm position towards some of the topics the other left-wing parties are most passionate about, notably environmentalism and Norway’s oil policy. With 90% of the ballots counted, the Socialist Left and the Greens have currently received 6% and 3% of the voting preferences respectively, meaning there’s not much help they will be able to provide in the Storting in terms of seats.
What next for Norway?
A re-election of the current government seems inevitable, meaning Europe can look forward to another four years of Solberg’s government and stances on EU related issues. If the government parties’ manifestos hold true, Norway will be implementing a number of changes: tax cuts for companies, an overhaul of the public sector, and workplace flexibility. What won’t be changing is the country’s stance on oil explorations and drilling, which is a topic that has come under the spotlight recently especially due to the impact it has on climate change.