Norway’s race towards the parliamentary election is running so close that there are as many as 10 different options being floated to form a new coalition government among various parties. The two leaders of the Labour and Center parties are being urged to show more humility if they hope to win any support for a new left-center government from the Greens and Red parties.
“It’s the voters who will decide how much influence we will have, not (Center Party leader) Trygve Slagsvold Vedum,” claims the Greens’ co-leader Une Bastholm. Her remarks come shortly after Vedum joined Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre this week in ruling out formation of any government that would include the Greens or Red. Both Center and Labour claim their politics are far too different to rule together, not least because of the Greens’ ultimatum that they won’t support any government that in turn supports more oil and gas exploration.
The problem for both Center and Labour, however, is that public opinion polls indicate they’ll lack a majority in Parliament even if they team up with the Socialist Left party (SV). That will make them reliant on support from the Greens (MDG), which have been surging in the polls, and possibly from the Red party (Rødt).
“If the Greens wind up as having a swing vote, we will use the power that gives us to make sure we get the most climate- and environment-friendly government Norway has ever had,” Bastholm said on state broadcaster NRK’s nightly newscast Dagsrevyen Monday night.
She repeated recent remarks made by her co-leader Rasmus Hansson (both of whom prefer to be called ‘spokesperson’) that the Greens would approach both Jonas Gahr Støre of Labour and current Prime Minister Erna Solberg of the Conservative Party to negotiate terms of potential government cooperation.
“The only thing we’ve ruled out, is supporting a government that includes the (most conservative) Progress Party,” said Bastholm “Otherwise we’ll talk with all parties and come to support a prime minister who will do the most for the environment and the climate.”
The Greens’ aversion to the Progress Party is likely to effectively rule out any cooperation with Solberg’s Conservatives, though, since Solberg needs Progress to maintain her current conservative government coalition. Neither of the other two non-socialist parties, the Liberals and Christian Democrats, are expected to win enough votes to rule with the Conservatives alone.
But that doesn’t necessarily help the rival center-left coalition if they don’t get more support as well. Bastholm said she’ll gladly negotiate with them, but the Greens also strongly disagree with how Center wants to “protect nature by using it.” While the Greens want to preserve Norwegian forests and waterfalls, for example, Center supports their use by the timber and hydroelectric industries. The Greens also want to not only protect wolves but build up Norway’s wolf population to as many as 300. The Center Party want to hunt wolves and other predators, even eagles, to protect free-grazing livestock, and only wants around 30 or less wolves in Norway.
The Greens differ most from the other parties in their campaign to halt more oil and gas exploration and eventually phase out Norway’s offshore oil industry. They see that as the only way Norway can cut carbon emissions enough to meet its international commitments, and they don’t want Norway contributing to more use of fossil fuels.
Bjørnar Moxnes, leader of the small but also growing Red party, said it was “unwise” of Vedum and Støre to shut the door on them as well. “I hope the Center Party chooses a more constructive attitude towards the Reds,” Moxnes told NRK, noting that if Vedum and Støre form a minority coalition, they may need to rely on the two small parties to pass a state budget.