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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Tempers flare as election nears

More than 600,000 Norwegians have already cast their ballots in the run-up to Monday’s parliamentary election. That’s nearly triple the amount of advance and absentee voting in the last election in 2005. Squabbling continued, meanwhile, among politicians and there have been some angry exchanges of words.

The high level of advance voting reflects the same high turnout in mock elections held at high schools around the country earlier in the week. Around 76 percent of those eligible cast ballots, and the result was almost even, between the socialist and non-socialist coalitions.

The latest public opinion polls still show a tight race, even though the Conservatives have been registering gains and may have a majority. That’s led to more quarreling among the various parties on the conservative side of the spectrum, climaxing in an angry exchange between the heads of the Progress Party and the Conservative Party at a photo session that was intended to be conciliatory.

Conservative leader Erna Solberg irritated Progress Party leader Siv Jensen by posing with the leaders of two small non-socialist parties who have claimed they will never support a government of which the Progress Party is a part.

Then came even more political maneuvering, with the two small parties (the Liberals and the Christian Democrats) reportedly hashing out a plan to freeze out the Progress Party and usher themselves into power by letting the current socialist government stay in power, supporting its budget proposal due later this fall and then furthering their own budget next year together with the Conservatives.

Jensen claimed she was sick of all the political plotting going on. “I think this shows clearly that for some, it’s more important to get into government power than to practice your own politics,” she said. She’s also tired of being sidelined, stressing that her party is the largest of the non-socialist parties and thus deserves more respect.

“It’s as stupid to talk about a non-socialist government without the Progress Party as it is to talk about a socialist government without Labour,” Jensen said.

Solberg later tried to smooth ruffled feathers by taking it upon herself to “invite” all four non-socialist parties to talks right after the election. Even though Solberg’s party is half the size of Jensen’s, Solberg still sees herself as candidate for prime minister, as do the two other parties.

It’s ultimately up to the voters, with results due to roll in late Monday night. If they reflect the polls, however, more political maneuvering will be in store as the politicians and ultimately King Harald settle on a new government for Norway.



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