School elections cheer Labour Party

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Never before has the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet, Ap) done so well in the school elections held as a test of young Norwegians’ choices before general elections. Labour’s victory in the elections held at 368 schools around the country on Tuesday was called “historic.”

Labour, hit hard by a terrorist's bomb and massacre in July, made a strong showing in school elections this week. PHOTO: Views and News

Labour attracted 29.7 percent of the vote and emerged as the big winner, up 8.5 percentage points from the last school elections held before municipal elections in 2007.

The big loser was the Socialist Left party (SV), which lost 5.9 points to land at just 4.9 percent of the vote. That was a very poor showing for SV, and the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp), which generally does well in the school elections, fared poorly as well at the other end of the political spectrum. It fell 4.6 percentage points to attract 16.5 percent of the vote.

The Conservative Party (Høyre) did well, but not as well as Labour, gaining 6.8 points to land at 24.3 percent of the vote. Norway’s other political parties with candidates on the municipal ballots otherwise registered relatively small gains and losses and none attracted more than 7 percent of the vote.

The school elections, widely viewed as an indicator of upcoming performance at the polls, was further proof that SV is lagging and faces its toughest election ever. Labour, meanwhile, was delighted with the students’ vote of confidence and viewed the results as a shot of energy five days before municipal elections are held on September 11 and 12.

“Labour and the Conservatives have long been underrepresented in the school elections, in relation to general elections, but this time they seem to have secured a more correct showing,” Hanne Marthe Narud, an election researcher, told news bureau NTB. The results were also in line with current public opinion polls.

Labour leaders denied the election results were generated by sympathy for the party after the terrorist attacks of July 22, when Labour was a clear target of a Norwegian bomber and gunman. Vegard Grøslie Wennesland, new leader of Labour’s AUF youth chapter in Oslo, told reporters that AUF’s corresponding jump in membership is rather a result of students “seeing that it’s important to get involved and take part in politics.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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