Leaders of Norway’s four non-socialist parties that collectively won Monday’s parliamentary election were spending most of this week huddling with their own party faithful and gearing up for negotiations on a new coalition government. Talks will start up next week, with a new government due to be presented on the grounds of the Royal Palace on October 18.
Erna Solberg, who’ll lead the negotiations as Prime Minister-elect from the Conservative Party, said she spent part of her morning after Monday night’s victory doing some laundry and attending to some other household chores that were neglected during the hectic pre-election campaign. Then she headed to her party’s offices at Høyres Hus in downtown Oslo to eat celebratory cake with her colleagues and start analyzing elections results.
It was much the same for the other three parties, as they assess their respective positions based on voter support and appoint their delegations to the upcoming negotiation of issues needed in order form a common government platform. The Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp), the Liberals (Venstre) and the Christian Democrats (Kristelig Folkeparti, KrF) all had board meetings with the latter two holding new meetings on Thursday.
They need to hash out which issues need to stay in line with their party programs and those on which they may feel more able to compromise. All claim they’re not going to pose any ultimatums going into the negotiations and that compromises are inevitable.
The parties will then start sounding each other out, probably during meetings at the Parliament, over the next two weeks. The goal, noted newspaper Dagsavisen on Wednesday, will be to deal with the most difficult issues (like oil drilling off Lofoten, foreign aid and asylum policies) and find out which parties will actually enter into government negotiations. Some members of the Christian Democrats doubt their party will go forward, because of major differences with the Progress Party, which is much bigger and in a stronger position after nailing just over 16 percent of the vote compared to its 5.6 percent.
The Liberals, meanwhile, have said they want to stick together with the Christian Democrats to strengthen the centrist parties’ position, but party leader Trine Skei Grande has also been very keen to gain government power. The Conservatives and the Progress Party only need one of them to gain a majority in parliament, but still say they want all four to rule together.
After the sessions of feeling each other out, actual negotiations for a coalition government platform will begin, probably around September 30. The talks will take place on neutral territory at a still-unnamed conference center or hotel in the Oslo area. The parties will also decide which parties will gain political control over which ministries and the search for new cabinet ministers will take off.
The current and defeated left-center government led by Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg must still present a state budget on October 14. After that, the government will formally resign (Stoltenberg has already notified King Harald V of his pending resignation), clearing the way for Solberg’s new government to meet at the palace for its first Council of State on Friday October 18.