Christian Democrats switch sides

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Norway’s Christian Democrats, struggling with record low levels of voter support, have adopted a new strategy to boost their popularity by allying themselves with the Labour Party. The switch from the right to the left side of Norwegian politics has raised eyebrows, but seems to have support from local party leaders.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported on Tuesday that 12 of 17 county leaders of the Christian Democrats (Kristelig Folkeparti, KrF) support a proposed cooperation with Labour. Only one was opposed.

The Christian Democrats logged their worst national election results last fall and several recent public opinion polls indicate they have only around 3 percent of the vote, not enough to even win representation in Parliament. Embattled party leader Dagfinn Høybråten announced last week that he would step down.

A few days later, other party officials announced a new strategy which some have branded as desperate. It involves siding with Labour in the formation of future governments instead of a more traditional alliance with the Conservative Party or other small parties on the center-right side of the political spectrum.

The strategy also goes against a proposal aired by deputy party leader Inger Lise Hansen just a few weeks ago that the Christian Democrats should open up for tighter cooperation with the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp), the most conservative of the parties now represented in the parliament (Stortinget).

The support for an alliance with Labour (Arbeiderpartiet) marks a victory of sorts for the Christian Democrats’ other deputy leader, Dagrun Eriksen. She led the strategy commission and said tighter cooperation with either the Progress Party or the current left-center coalition would harm the party’s position as a centrist party. A deal with Labour alone, however, can be a good alternative, she thinks.

Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg seemed open to talks, but also said it was important for the Christian Democrats to settle on where they stand. It also remains questionable just how eager any party would be to cooperate with the Christian Democrats, since they currently have little to offer in terms of voter support.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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