Conservatives 'win' school election

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Norway’s Conservative Party (Høyre) gained the most in this week’s mock elections held in high schools all over the country. Labour and the Progress Party, however, remained the two single biggest parties after a contest that often reflects how the nation as a whole will vote in the next parliamentary election, to be held on Monday.

Turnout was high as 170,392 high school students at nearly 400 schools headed into authentic-looking polling booths and cast their ballots. Norway’s traditional skolevalget is widely viewed as the best indicator of election results, better than the current rash of often contradictory public opinion polls.

Labour (Arbeiderpartiet) and theProgress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) ended up with almost the same amount of support: 23.8 percent for Labour (up 2.1 percentage points from the school elections held before the last parliamentary elections in 2005) and 23.7 percent for the Progress Party (down 1.5 points), reports newspaper Aftenposten .

In the school elections of 2005, the Progress Party emerged as the winner with 25.2 percent of the vote and it did well in the parliamentary election as well, only to lose its stab at government power when Labour, the Socialist Left (SV) and the Center Party got together to form a government coalition that’s ruled for the past four years.

This time around, the students turned their backs on SV, handing current Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen’sSocialist Leftparty only 10.4 percent of the vote, down 6.2 points from 2005.

TheConservativesgained the most, up 4.7 points to 16.3 percent of the vote among the students. The smallLiberal Party (Venstre) also gained support, up 2.9 points to 6 percent.

TheCenter Party, now part of the current left-center government coalition, lost its relatively small amount of support among the students, falling to 5.7 percent from 7.2 in 2005.

TheChristian Democrats (Kristelig Folkeparti, KrF) is the least-liked party among the students, grabbing only 3.7 percent of the vote, exactly the same amount as in 2005. That’s less than theReds (Rødt) got, 4.8 percent compared to 4.2 percent in 2005.

Intriguing indicator of what’s to come

If the adult population votes along the same lines as the students on Election Day (September 14), KrF could still give the Conservatives and Venstre a collective 26 percent of the vote, more than the Progress Party alone and possibly enough to form an alternative non-socialist coalition.

The Conservatives and the Progress Party together, however, would have 40 percent of the vote, compared to 39.9 percent for the current left-center coalition. If KrF and Venstre join the non-socialist fold, Norway would get a new conservative government next week. But both KrF and Venstre claim they won’t cooperate with the Progress Party, so the race looks set to remain a thriller with a host of government options.