Conservatives now largest in the land

Bookmark and Share

Erna Solberg’s Conservative Party (Høyre) is now Norway’s largest political party, according to a new public opinion poll. The Norwegian Labour Party’s decline in popularity is being called “dramatic,” after falling nearly 10 full points since its election victory last fall. 

Erna Solberg's party has gained 11 points since its result after last year's election campaign. PHOTO: Høyre

Leaders of the Conservatives, many of whom gathered on Thursday for a belated celebration of party veteran Per-Kristian Foss’ 6oth birthday last month, had more reason to celebrate on Friday after newspaper Aftenposten published the results of its latest poll. It showed the Conservatives with 28.4 percent of the vote, up 3.5 points from the last poll in June and more than 11 points higher than its election result of just 17.2 percent last September.

The poll, conducted for Aftenposten by research firm Respons, also showed that Labour has had a miserable summer indeed. It fell 4.5 points from the June poll, to just 26.1 percent of the vote. That compares to the 35.4 percent that gave Labour a second term as leader of a left-center coalition government formed with the Socialist Left (SV) and the Center Party.

Those two, much smaller government parties also slipped in the new poll, but haven’t lost anywhere near as much popularity as Labour has. SV fell 0.1 points and now holds 6.1 percent of the vote, while the Center Party lost 0.5 points, to 6.5 percent.

All told, the three government parties now hold 38.7 percent of the vote, according to the new poll, which was based on interviews this week of just over 1,000 voters. They were asked which party they’d vote for if an election were to be held tomorrow. Its results were similar to another poll conducted by research firm Opinion for news bureau ANB.

The Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp), Norway’s most conservative, also gained slightly in the latest poll, to 20.8 percent of the vote, but it has fallen almost as sharply as Labour from earlier polls that several times ranked it as Norway’s largest. The Progress Party and the Conservatives have been showing signs of increasing cooperation and together they would now dominate in Parliament.

Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg says he needs to roll up his sleeves and work hard to regain voter support - again. PHOTO: Arbeiderpartiet

Labour’s fall is blamed not just on the controversy surrounding proposed construction of power lines in the scenic areas around the Hardanger Fjord, but also because of internal bickering within the government coalition. Several issues have involved anything but the “elegant” solution the government is trying to find to the Hardanger problem.  Thore Olaussen of Respons told Aftenposten that the coalition has given the impression that it “messes up” its handling of issues, and even though it’s mostly SV and the Center Party that are at odds, Labour gets blamed.

Other political observers say Labour has been on the defensive since last autumn’s election, and voters see few signs of political initiative. Høyre and Frp, meanwhile, grab every chance to criticize the government and Høyre is seen as having proposed clear alternatives to the government’s policies.

Labour’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg promised to roll up his shirt sleeves and work to reverse the trend.

“The poll confirms and reinforces the low level Labour has had for a while,” he told Aftenposten. “We have experienced bad opinion polls before and the solution is hard work with the political issues.” He said he was taking the poll’s results seriously.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
Join our 
Forum if you’d like to comment on this story.