Voter turnout defied the skeptics

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Fully 77.7 percent of all eligible voters in Norway took part in Monday’s parliamentary election that’s sweeping a new Conservative-led government coalition into office. The turnout rose even though the election results were widely tipped in a rush of pre-election public opinion polls.

There was a steady stream of voters outside the polling place at Oslo City Hall on Monday, but most voters used their own local precincts. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

There was a steady stream of voters outside the polling place at Oslo City Hall on Monday, but most voters used their own local precincts. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Some politicians and election analysts had feared that voters would lose interest in voting if they figured that the outcome was already pre-determined. Polls had indicated for months that the non-socialist parties were running well ahead of the left-center government parties that have ruled for the past eight years. It was widely thought that the Conservatives would win enough votes to form a coalition government with the other non-socialist parties, and that’s what happened.

But voters in Norway took an active part indeed in the process, according to election researcher Bernt Aardal’s analysis of voting results with 99.8 percent of the ballots counted. “This is a good turnout,” Aardal told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), even though he noted it was “not record high.”

Aardal said the result was up from the 76.4 percent who voted in the last election in 2009 and from the 77.4 percent in the election in 2005 when the current but now-defeated left-center government led by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was first elected. The turnout defied fears that this election might result in the lowest numbers since 1927.

Instead there was a large increase (nearly 200,000) in the number of voters who cast their ballots in advance, meaning that nearly a quarter of Norway’s voters now vote ahead of Election Day. “That’s probably because folks now have a lot more possibilities to vote early,” Aardal said.

He noted that voter turnout hit a record 85.4 percent in 1965 and was around 80 percent in the post-war years. “So we’re still up around that level,” Aardal said.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund