Norway’s Center-Right Clear Election FavoriteBy: Shana Norris - September 8, 2013
Just two years after extreme-right terror attacks killed 77 people in Norway, the center-right coalition appears set to oust Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and the country’s reigning center-left coalition.
Norway’s parliamentary election is scheduled to be held Monday, September 9, 2013.
Pundits predict Stoltenberg’s eight year tenure as Prime Minister will end, and Erna Solberg (shown above) will be elected to the position. Solberg belongs to the Conservative Party, which along with the Progress Party, the Christian Democratic Party, and the Liberal Party make up the center-right coalition.
This is the first time that the Progress Party has been included in a coalition government. This move is seen as a bid for a parliamentary majority. The Progress Party had to move closer to center, and tone down its anti-immigration rhetoric in order to join the coalition.
Anders Behring Breivik, the right wing extremist who perpetrated the 2011 terror attacks is widely known to have been a member of the Progress Party until 2006. Surprisingly, his political affiliation has had little bearing in the months leading up to the election. Some have even said Breivik is irrelevant in this election.
Nevertheless, Progress Party leader Siv Jensen has focused heavily on healthcare and infrastructure issues in recent campaign appearances. When pressed to discuss her views on immigration, Jensen denied that the Progress Party’s stance echoed that of Breivik and others like him, while maintaining that Norwegian immigration policy needs improvement.
Prime minister Stoltenberg had high approval ratings following Breivik’s bombing of a government headquarters and shooting spree at a Labor Party youth camp. Not only did he lead the country through the aftermath of the terror attacks, but he also guided it through an economic recession that has since been reversed thanks largely to the booming oil sector.
Some believe that Stoltenberg’s predicted fall from power can be attributed not so much to specific complaints about the Prime Minister and how he has governed the country, but simply because he’s held the office for much longer than is typical for the country.
According to Johannes Berg from the Institute of Social Research in Oslo, “… the key reason is a sort of fatigue with the sitting government. They’ve been in government for eight years, which is quite unique in recent history in this country.”