The latest polls showed Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s popularity is the highest it has been since she became the Norwegian leader last autumn. Former prime minister Jens Stoltenberg’s pending exit from national politics to take on the top job at NATO appeared to have boosted support for Solberg, his long-time political sparring partner.
The poll conducted at the start of April for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) asked respondents who they thought was best suited as prime minister. For the first time, the public was asked to choose between Conservative (Høyre) leader Solberg and Jonas Gahr Støre, the man tipped to take over as leader of the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet, Ap) on June 14.
Solberg returned 44.3 percent of the vote, an increase of about one percentage point from March. It’s the highest public support recorded since Solberg’s coalition government was voted in last September. Støre returned 38.9 percent showing he’s not as popular as Stoltenberg, who 42.1 percent of respondents voted for as preferred prime minister in the March poll.
More voters also responded with “unsure” in the April poll. Choosing between Solberg and Støre, 16.8 percent said they were undecided, while 14.6 percent were unsure choosing between Solberg and Stoltenberg in March.
“I think it is very nice that people obviously think it’s okay that I am prime minister,” Solberg told NRK. “It is always fun to progress. I also think this is a good measure of confidence for Jonas.”
Solberg said she was looking forward to having Støre as a political opponent if he’s voted into the Labour Party’s top spot. “It’s always unusual to meet a new person,” she said. “Jonas and Jens are different when it comes to their debating methods. It will be exciting to see how the Ap‘s policies are influenced by changes in the leadership.”
Støre told NRK he did not want to comment on opinion polls at this stage.
No affect on Ap popularity
The news of Stoltenberg’s planned departure from the Norwegian political scene did not affect the Labour Party’s popularity, according to NRK’s April poll. The party’s popularity increased 0.2 percent on its March result to 35.4 percent, and has gone up 4.6 percent since the election last year. Stoltenberg’s appointment as the new NATO Secretary General has won broad support both in Norway and internationally, most recently from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Conservative party’s popularity dropped 0.5 percent on its March result to 25.9 percent in April. It has fallen 0.9 percent overall since the election. Its coalition partner, the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, FrP) increased its popularity by 1.1 percent to 15.7 percent from March to April, but has experienced an overall drop of 0.6 percent since the election.