For the first time, voters have given the head of Norway’s Conservative Party
(Høyre) higher marks than the current Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. Erna Solberg also beat out the head of the more conservative Progress Party, Siv Jensen.The voter survey, carried out by research firm Respons for newspaper Aftenposten , questioned 1,003 persons around the country from December 7-9. They were asked how good or how bad a job party leaders and government ministers were doing.
On a grading scale from one to six, with six being best, leader Solberg of the opposition Conservative Party scored 4.0, up 0.7 points from June. That was the last time Aftenposten asked voters to grade politicians using the system also used in most Norwegian schools.
Stoltenberg wound up with an overall score of 3.8, down 0.4 points from June. Jensen of the other major opposition party, the Progress Party, scored 3.7, down 0.1 from June.
All incumbent government ministers who also were scored in June had lower grades this time, including Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. He has consistently scored highest among voters, and he did again, with a grade of 4.8, but that was down 0.2 from June.
The government minister getting the lowest grade, 2.7, was Lisbeth Berg Hansen, the new Fisheries Minister. She’s been the target of harsh criticism over her handling ofthe salmon lice crisiscurrently hitting Norway’s fish farming industry.Hansen and another new cabinet minister, Rigmor Aasrud in charge of modernization and church issues, were the only two politicians scoring less than 3. Aasrud, whose ministry has a relatively low public profile, was given a grade of 2.9.
Solberg was pleased by her high grade. “This is of course very nice,” Solberg told Aftenposten . “It backs up a subjective feeling I have.”
She noted that she’s had “a lot of positive feedback” from voters this autumn, even though her party didn’t perform well at the polls in the September parliamentary election.
“I think it helps to be a bit calm and concrete,” Solberg said. “I’ve focused on being constructive in opposition and have talked about the need for broad cooperation. I think the voters have responded to that.”
Government ministers scoring the highest after Støre were new Finance Minister Sigbjørn Johnsen, with 4.0, followed by Stoltenberg and new Defense Minister Grete Faremo with 3.7. Justice Minister Knut Storberget was next in line with 3.6 and Erik Solheim (environment and foreign aid) with 3.5.
The coalition government’s two other party leaders, Liv Signe Navarsete of the Center Party and Kristin Halvorsen of the Socialist Left, scored 3.5 and 3.4 respectively.