By Thomas Judge
THIS WEEK’S election in Norway saw the country’s left-wing parties return a majority of representatives, ousting the incumbent right-wing government and ending the premiership of Erna Solberg.
The two main right-leaning parties, the centre-right Conservative Party and right wing Progress party, both lost vote share and seats in the Storting between them, losing a combined total of 15 seats.
The Progress Party had previously been in coalition with the Conservatives, but left in 2020. At the time of the election, the Conservatives led a coalition including the Liberal Party and Christian Democratic Party.
The result left a large majority for the country’s various left-wing parties, with the outgoing Erna Solberg Prime Minister conceding defeat.
However, despite coming out on top, the Norwegian Labour Party dropped both vote share and a single seat, although its leader Jonas Gahr Støre looks likely to be the country’s next leader.
Parties to the left of Labour, the Socialist Left, the Green Party, and the Red Party picked up seats (eleven between them).
Finally, the Centre Party, coming from the traditional nordic Agrarian background and who did not support the previous government, gained nine seats, the most by any single party. This surge in popularity makes them the third-largest group, making gaining their support crucial in the upcoming coalition talks.
The election has seen Norway enter something of an existential crisis as it asks itself what its economy will look like in the future if it moves away from oil, its largest export and backbone of the economy, making up around 40 per cent of exports.
Whether – and how fast – Norway moves away from oil is yet to be seen as conflicting views are represented across the left parties which will form the government.
Norway has a famously unique position towards the EU – being a non-member but with very close ties to the trading bloc.
The new set of elected parties on the left have a myriad of views on further integration, or further distancing, from the EU, so seeing how the country moves under the upcoming government could be interesting.
The main question now seems to be whether the coalition government includes five or three parties.
The Centre-Labour-Socialist arrangement seems most likely (similar to the last time the left was in power in the country), but this only guarantees a slim majority.
The inclusion of the Greens and Red party would secure a more significant majority but lead to a more fractious coalition in terms of policy differences. There are also questions as to whether the Centre party would work with the hard left Reds.
In whatever forms, if this comes to pass, it represents another country in Europe where the traditional centre-left party has been returned to power – after eight years in opposition in this case – with the backing of a minor, more left-wing party which has risen in popularity.
Spain, Portugal and Denmark being similar cases.
All eyes are now on Germany, and Canada across the Atlantic, to see if similar arrangements are the results of their respective elections.
This article was updated on September 17, 2021 to clarify that the Progress Party was not in the governing coalition at time of the election.
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