Partial count: Right bloc wins Norway election
By NILS MYKLEBOST
and MALIN RISING
The Associated Press | September 10,2013
Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg casts his ballot in the parliamentary election at a polling station in Oslo.
OSLO, Norway — A partial count of Monday’s parliamentary election indicates a center-right coalition led by the Conservative Party will take power in Norway for the first time since 2005, ousting the current Labor-led government. The forecast by Statistics Norway, based on a quarter of the vote, indicates Conservative Party leader Erna Solberg will become the new prime minister of the oil-rich Nordic country, replacing Jens Stoltenberg of the Labor Party.
The Conservative Party has seen a surge in support amid pledges to increase the availability of private health care and cut taxes on assets over $140,000. As she voted in the morning, Solberg told reporters she had “been working for four years, intensively to build a wider and stronger platform for the Conservative Party.”
The forecast, published as polls closed Monday, showed the Conservative Party got 26.2 percent of the votes. Together with its potential coalition allies — the anti-immigration Progress Party, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats — it was forecast to get 52.8 percent of the votes.
The Labor Party was expected to remain the biggest single party, with 30.7 percent of the votes. Still, the party and its two coalition partners, the Socialist Party and the Center Party, have lost support since the last election, getting only 42 percent of the votes together in the forecast.
The discovery of oil and gas in Norway’s waters in the 1960s turned the Scandinavian nation into one of the richest in the world, with a strong welfare system and a high living standard. The oil helped Norway withstand Europe’s financial crisis and has allowed it to create an investment fund for the country’s future that is now worth around $750 billion.
One political expert said the reason Stoltenberg struggled to be re-elected for a third term was simply that he had been in power for so long.
“I call it government fatigue. The Labor coalition has been in power for eight years and one would expect that some voters now think it is time for a change,” said Frank Aarebrot, professor of comparative politics at the University of Bergen.
This is the first parliamentary election since Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in 2011. Thirty-three survivors of the massacre on Utoya island, mostly teen members of the Labor Party youth wing, are seeking national office in the election.
Stoltenberg was admired for his calm demeanor after the 2011 terror acts and there was a short-lived boost in support for his Labor Party. But last year a report criticizing Norwegian police for a litany of institutional failures before and during the attacks dented his government’s prestige.