Norwegians go to the polls

Norway’s 4 million registered voters will head to polling stations on Monday (10 September) to vote for their parliamentary representatives. The conservatives threaten to oust the governing social democrats, whose popularity has dwindled in the past few months.

The main topics dominating this years’ parliamentary election campaign include the issues of the welfare state and recent high petroleum prices. The issue of entry into the European Union has been avoided by all parties as it is a very touchy topic with most Norwegians.

 

The conservatives would like to see Norway's tax burden lowered to closer match the average EU level, whereas the social democrats want to keep a strong welfare state.

The conservatives skilfully used the issue of high oil prices to dramatically lower the popularity of the social democrats. The governing social democrats defend the need for high prices in order to fuel a strong welfare state.

Neither the social democrats, whose members are split over the question of EU entry, nor the conservatives want to force the issue of the EU because most citizens would not endorse full EU integration if it came down to a referendum. Many Norwegians have criticized Norway's signing of the European Economic Area agreement, which forces Norway to take up many EU Directives into national law without any direct input from their side.

Another reason the two main political parties do not want to bring up the issue of the EU in this election is because their victory is dependent on the cooperation with at least one of the three centre parties. All three of these centre parties categorically reject EU entry.

 

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