Coalition agrees new platform

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Almost. The three political parties making up Norway’s government coalition, led by Labour, still haven’t come to terms on oil exploration off Lofoten but otherwise are set to reveal a new platform for their politics over the next four years.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Wednesday morning that Labour, the Socialist Left (SV) and the Center Party (Sp) would unveil their new platform late in the afternoon.

The thorniest issue on which they disagree, oil exploration off the scenic coastlines of Lofoten and Vesterålen in northern Norway, will reportedly be put on ice. SV and Sp want to ban any drilling in the area but Labour worries about the losses that would mean for the oil and offshore industry. Labour, which performed the best of the three parties at the polls last month, thus has reportedly prevailed in its desire to postpone any decision on drilling off Lofoten until late next autumn, following the release of new studies on the issue.

SV, which had a disappointing election but enough votes to stay in the government, apparently has had to cave in for now, also on asylum politics. Labour and Sp have wanted to make it harder to win asylum in Norway, while SV wants to make it easier. NRK predicted SV will have to compromise on that as well.

Other key positions that apparently have been hammered out include policies on predators (Sp, a champion of rural issues, wants to kill more wolves, SV wants to protect them) and equal pay. NRK predicted SV would prevail on the wolves issue.

The new platform will be called “Soria Moria II,” a follow-up on the incumbent coalition’s “Soria Moria I” platform that guided its last four years in government power. It’s named both after the Soria Moria conference center in the hills north of downtown Oslo, where it will once again be presented late Wednesday afternoon, and after a fairy tale place in Norwegian literature.

Tough negotiations have been going on among the three parties since last Monday but the new platform is expected to be shorter than the previous one. That’s because many of the coalition’s joint positions on key issues will carry over and don’t need to be re-introduced.

Formulation of what Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has called the government’s “goals and visions,” however, is expected to be looser than it was in Soria Moria I, in part because of uncertainty caused by the global financial crisis. One analyst said the government doesn’t want to be too bound by specific financial commitments.