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Norway’s centre-left set to beat ruling conservatives in elections

Norwegians headed to the polls on Monday to vote for a new parliament, in what is likely to lead to a change of government after eight years under Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Norwegians headed to the polls on Monday to vote for a new parliament, in what is likely to lead to a change of government after eight years under Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Polling suggests that the social democratic Labour Party could see a surge in support, meaning leader Jonas Gahr Store could replace Solberg.

A change to the left and away from the Conservative Party would give Norway a government more in line with its Scandinavian neighbours Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

Some 3.9 million people are eligible to vote.

Monday is the official voting day, but polling stations were opened on Sunday, too, in almost half of all the towns nationwide.

Citizens were also able to vote even earlier by remote means, an option taken up by some 1.65 million Norwegians, or more than 42 per cent of all eligible voters.

In the affluent, oil-rich nation, which is not a member of the EU, climate and environmental protection, and associated petroleum policies, played a major role in the campaign.

Norway’s oil sector has contributed to making the Scandinavian country one of the world’s wealthiest, but as climate fears grow many in the country are now demanding a less oil-reliant economy.

The publication of the latest dire report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) a month ago gave Labour and other smaller parties with a clearer climate focus a boost.

More than a year ago, in the spring of 2020, Solberg was still doing well in the polls, thanks in large part to Norway’s relatively successful management of the pandemic’s first wave.

But her Conservative Party’s numbers have since been eroding while Store’s Labour Party has ascended.

Solberg, 60, has held power in Norway since 2013.

Store, 61, was foreign minister in the previous government under then Social Democratic prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, who currently serves as NATO’s secretary general.

Solberg narrowly defeated the opposition in the last elections in 2017.

The centre-right bloc comprising Solberg’s Conservative Party and junior governing coalition partner, the right-wing populist Progress Party, and two small centrist parties won 89 seats in the 169-seat legislature.

The time, however, she would likely face an even tougher prospect at forming at government, because the stronger plausible coalition partners are – in large part due to the dominating issue of the climate crisis – on the centre-left of the political spectrum.

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