Norwegian Labour party suffers huge election setback

Norway’s Labour party has suffered its worst defeat since 1924 in an election which produced no clear winner. It saw its share of the vote fall from 35.5 percent four years ago to just 24.4 percent in Monday’s election. The biggest gains were made by the Conservative party who saw their share of the vote rise from 14.3 percent in 1997 to 21.3 percent.

The main focus of the election campaign has been on the state of public services and recent high petroleum prices at a time of unprecedented prosperity. The issue of entry into the European Union has been avoided by all parties as it is a very controversial topic in Norway.

 

It is unclear which party will form the next government. Norway's proportional representation system has ensured that most recent governments have been coalitions. Monday's election was unusual in that no single party received a significantly larger proportion of the vote than any other.

Despite only gaining 24.4 percent of the vote, the Labour party is still the largest party in the Stortinget (parliament) and leader Jens Stoltenberg has stated that he will attempt to retain power by forming a new coalition. His preferred major coalition partner is the Christian Democrats, led by former prime minister Kjell-Magne Bondevik, which received 12.5 percent of the votes.

Analysts suggest that it could be weeks before the negotiations lead to the formation of a new coalition government.

 

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