Prime Minister Erna Solberg was among top Norwegian politicians launching their parties’ campaigns to win municipal elections next month. Solberg headed north and spent three days in Nordland County, where she promised state support for better roads and a new tunnel from Lofoten to Vesterålen.
“I think election campaigns are fun, and I’ve been looking forward to getting this one underway,” Solberg, head of the Conservative Party (Høyre) told news bureau NTB. “I like to travel around and talk with people, and tell them why they should vote for good mayors around the country.”
Solberg’s spirits weren’t dampened by cold and rainy weather as she rounded off a brief summer holiday by visiting local communities and enterprises in scenic Lofoten, Vesterålen and Bodø. “Here in Lofoten and Vesterålen we have many good Conservative mayors who’ve done a great job and should win another term,” Solberg claimed.
The municipal elections falling in the middle of Solberg’s government’s own term are set for September 13 and 14, and are the only elections in which foreign residents of Norway are also allowed to vote. Solberg’s Conservatives are facing a tough battle against the Labour Party, which lost state government control in 2013 and is now keen to win local control in municipal governments around the country.
Newspaper Dagsavisen reported over the weekend how both Solberg and Labour leader Jonas Gahr Støre are especially determined to win power both in Bergen and Oslo. The Conservatives have held power in both cities for many years (18 in Oslo and 12 in Bergen), and Labour is working hard to pry it away.
Støre called elections “the high-point of a democracy” and he also claimed to be looking forward to actively getting the campaign underway as the summer holidays wind down. Labour arguably began its campaign last spring, when Støre and others started handing out Labour’s trademark roses in connection with the party’s annual meeting.
All of the political parties’ youth groups have been meeting recently for their own summer camps and pre-election rallies. The Young Conservatives, for example, started convening on Monday at Hove Leir in Arendal on Norway’s southern coast. Later this week, Labour’s youth group AUF will convene its first camp back on AUF’s island of Utøya, since scores of campers were shot and killed in a massacre there on July 22, 2011. The municipal election campaign itself will climax later in August with a string of party leader speeches and debates.