Progress Party falls to new low

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A new public opinion poll leaves Norway’s most conservative party, the Progress Party, with just 11.1 percent of the vote. That means it’s lost more than half its support in the past two years, and that’s also bad news for the opposition in Parliament.

There's not much drive in the Progress Party's fortunes lately, with another disastrous public opinion poll showing that voters aren't buying the party's promise of renewal, as trumpeted in this poster from the fall campaign. PHOTO: Views and News

The Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp) won 22.9 percent of the vote at the last national election in 2009 and commanded around 30 percent of the vote in opinion polls as late as last year. It’s been on a slide all year long, though, and performed poorly in the municipal elections held last month.

Now, even though its losses are a gain for the Conservative Party (Høyre), the poor showing by the Progress Party puts proposed cooperation with Høyre in jeopardy and threatens their ultimate ability to jointly win government control at the next national election in 2013. A lot can happen in the next two years, but party officials are taking the negative signals from voters seriously.

“The poll is a serious warning for us,” Per Arne Olsen, deputy leader of the Progress Party, told newspaper Dagsavisen on Thursday. “I have no clear reason for why the results are half of what they were in 2009. The challenges for Norway are at least as large now as they were then.” He was referring to the problems the Progress Party most wants to tackle, including delays in receiving health care, elder care and better transportation systems.

The poll, conducted by research firm Opinion for the news group ANB, showed the Labour Party as the largest in the land, with 35.3 percent of the vote, followed by the Conservatives with 29.5 percent. While Labour lost two points from last month’s poll, the Conservatives gained 3.1 points, almost exactly what the Progress Party lost.

“The Progress Party is getting eaten up by the Conservatives,” Frank Aarebrot, a professor and election researcher, told Dagsavisen. “Former Progress Party voters are preoccupied with the thought that a change of government hinges now on Erna Solberg (head of the Conservatives). She’s the one with credibility at this point.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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