The left-wing opposition, led by Labor Jonas Gahr Støre, won this Monday (13) the parliamentary elections in Norway, dominated by the fate of the country’s oil sector, according to projections published at the end of the elections.
“We listened, waited and worked hard, and now we can say: we did it!” declared Støre, the likely next prime minister, to the acclaim of his supporters.
The five opposition parties are expected to win 104 of the 169 seats in the “Storting”, the Norwegian unicameral parliament, enough to unseat the right-wing coalition of conservative Erna Solberg, according to projections.
With 89 seats so far, the Støre Labor Party would even obtain an absolute majority with its main allies, the center party and the socialist left, without needing the other opposition forces, the MDG ecologists and the Rødt communists.
“Norway has sent a clear message: the elections show that the Norwegian people want a more equitable society,” said Støre, a 61-year-old millionaire who campaigned against social inequality.
Left facing north
A record number of more than 1.6 million Norwegians, representing 42.3% of the electorate, resorted to early voting, which began a day earlier in major cities.
With the Norwegian result, the five Nordic countries, bastions of social democracy, will once again be led by the left.
“The work of the conservative party in government is over this time,” said Solberg, who has ruled the Scandinavian country since 2013, a record for the right.
“I congratulate Jonas Gahr Støre who, at the moment, seems to have a clear majority to change the government.”
The “red alert for humanity” released in early August by experts from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) placed global warming at the center of the election campaign and forced the country to reflect on the fate of oil activities that have made the nation very rich.
Norway’s Labor Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre holds a bunch of red roses in his party’s vigil during the count of parliamentary elections in Oslo on Monday (13) — Photo: Javad Parsa/NTB via Reuters
The report encourages those on the left and, to a lesser extent, the right, who want to get rid of oil.
The MDG calls for the immediate end of oil prospecting, and the end of oil exploration, by 2035. This ultimatum was rejected by Støre, who graduated in Political Science in Paris and minister in the government of Jens Stoltenberg between 2005 and 2013.
Like conservatives, the Labor Party – the country’s other big force – has ruled out giving up oil profits and advocates a gradual withdrawal.
In Norway, the oil sector represents 14% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), more than 40% of exports and 160 thousand direct jobs.
“The demand for oil is declining. This happens by itself, by the law of the market. It should not be enacted (…), but rather build bridges to future activities,” Labor Party energy chief told AFP, Espen Barth Eide.
Norwegian Conservatives spent eight years in power, a record, amid multiple crises – from migrants to falling oil prices and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I want a fairer society with opportunities for all, where we strive to put everyone to work. That’s priority number one,” Støre said on Monday, also calling for a “fair climate policy.”
“We will take all the time necessary to talk to the other parties,” he stressed, a few minutes before the projections were published.
Popular Prime Minister Solberg damaged her image by breaking her own rules of social distancing during her 60th birthday celebration in March, a misstep that also cost her a hefty fine.
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