Norway’s Conservative Party (Høyre) suddenly seems to be losing voter support after dominating the public opinion polls for months. New polls released on Friday show Høyre with its lowest standing in two years, while Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is gaining once again.
The Conservatives slipped to 28.5 percent of the vote, down 3.7 percentage points, in the latest poll conducted by research firm Respons for newspaper Aftenposten. Another poll conducted for newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) showed Høyre falling as well, to 28.1 percent of the vote, but by a smaller margin than from DN’s earlier poll.
Labour (Arbeiderpartiet, Ap), meanwhile, gained just over 2 points to claim 29.4 percent of the vote in the Aftenposten poll, making it Norway’s biggest political party once again. Labour was also largest in the DN poll conducted by Sentio Research Norge, with 28.5 percent of the vote.
‘Inspiring’ for the left
“These are nice and inspiring numbers,” Stoltenberg told Aftenposten, adding that “this shows it’s still fully possible for us to win the election.” His personal popularity has risen again as well, with polls at the end of last week suggesting that just as many voters (42 percent) want to keep Stoltenberg as their prime minister as do those who want Solberg. While Stoltenberg has enjoyed widespread support earlier in his two terms as prime minister, Solberg was running ahead of him in polls earlier this summer.
Stoltenberg said he was most concerned, though, about the numbers for his two current left-center government coalition partners. The Center Party (Sp) fell again in the Aftenposten poll to just 4.8 percent of the vote while the Socialist Left party (SV) gained 1.5 points but still claims just 4.6 percent of the vote. In the DN poll, their numbers were 5.5 and 5.4 percent respectively. That’s better than the “crisis” numbers facing SV earlier in the week, but not enough to give the left-center bloc an edge over the non-socialist (borgerlig) bloc.
Uncertain majority for the right
The four non-socialist parties now hold around 54 percent of the vote together, but it’s appeared increasingly doubtful that they can agree on a common platform to govern together. The Conservatives thus need to choose whether to team up with the Progress Party (running around 15 percent in the polls), with which it no longer has the majority the two once shared, or with the Liberals (Venstre) and the Christian Democrats (Kristelig Folkeparti, KrF), with which it would have even less of a majority since they’re running around 5 percent each.
The polls thus show both the right and the left failing to hold a majority in Parliament, leaving them both vulnerable. The wildcard once again may be the newly surging, if small, green party MDG (Miljøpartiet De Grønne). It held 5.2 percent of the vote in the Aftenposten poll and 3.6 percent in the DN poll, indicating that voters who once gave their support to the left-center parties, especially SV, are opting for MDG instead. MDG has been accused of splitting up the environmental bloc, and may wind up being courted by both the left and the right in a bid for government power.