Yesterday Norway went to the polls and the results of the general election show that the country took a huge step to the right. Having lost his majority, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, leader of the centre-left coalition which has governed for eight years, has informed the King that he will step down, paving the way for a new government, which will most likely be a coalition of the Conservative Party and the far right wing Progress Party, possibly also with one or both of the centre-right parties.
With 99.9 % of the votes counted the results are as follows:
The Labour Party, 30.8 % (-4.6), 55 seats (-9)
The Conservative Party, 26.9 % (+9.6), 48 seats (+18)
The Progress Party, 16.3 % (-6.7), 29 seats (-12)
The Christian People's Party, 5.6 % (no change), 10 seats (no change)
The Centre Party, 5.4 % (-0.8), 10 seats (-1)
The Liberal Party, 5.3 % (+1.4), 9 seats (+7)
The Socialist Left Party, 4.1 % (-2.1), 7 seats (-4)
The Green Party, 2.8 % (+2.5), 1 seat (+1)
The Red Party, 1.1 % (-0.2), no seats (no change).
This means that the governing coalition of Labour, the Socialist Left and the Centre Party have 72 seats out of 169, falling well short of the 85 needed for a majority, while the four parties to the right have 96. The Green Party, which enters Parliament for the first time, does not (yet) belong to either block.
As a consequence of this, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Labour) announced last night that he will submit his resignation to the King after the new Parliament has been opened on 9 October and the fiscal budget presented five days later. The new Prime Minister will most likely be the leader of the Conservative Party, Erna Solberg. She has throughout the election campaign and beyond been rather unwilling to go into detail about what sort of coalition she envisages, only stating that she would prefer all four of the parties to the right to join the government, which seems unlikely as the centre-right Christian People's Party and the Liberal Party are very reluctant to sit in the same cabinet as the far-right Progress Party. Thus the most likely scenario seems to be a coalition of the Conservatives and the Progress Party, which will be dependent on either the Christian People's Party or the Liberal Party to reach a parliamentary majority. If so, Erna Solberg will be one of the first Conservative leaders in Europe to allow a right wing populist party into the government offices.
Given that she succeeds in forming a government, Erna Solberg will be the second female Prime Minister of Norway after Gro Harlem Brundtland (Labour), who was Prime Minister in 1981, 1986-1989 and 1990-1996.
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