Hopes were rising among Norway’s non-socialists Monday night that Prime Minister Erna Solberg would be able to keep her Conservatives-led government in power for another four years. Early returns from Monday’s parliamentary election showed her bloc running ahead of the Labour Party’s by as much as 89-80.
The numbers were changing all the time, though, as election returns came in, somewhat delayed because of manual counting imposed to prevent hacked results. With 37 percent of the vote counted, the four non-socialist parties were holding 89 of the 169 seats in Parliament.
Solberg’s Conservatives logged 26.2 percent of the vote, while the more conservative Progress Party had 15.7 percent. The two have had a minority coalition over the past four years with support from Christian Democrats and the Liberals, which both had 4 percent of the vote.
That was enough to given them a majority. Trond Giske, deputy leader of Labour, told state broadcaster NRK that its 27.3 percent of the vote shortly after 9pm was “much too poor” for a party that all but ruled Norway for decades after World War II. “We haven’t succeeded in telling our story” of a new socialist course for Norway, Giske said.
Just minutes later, however, the gap between the Conservatives and Labour had narrowed, to 86-83, and there was great speculation over the fate of the small parties that can swing the vote and ultimately decide the election. The non-socialists’ Liberals and Christian Democrats slipped, with the Liberals falling below the 4 percent needed for full representation in Parliament. The Christian Democrats were also struggling to hang on.
If they both fall below 4 percent, the Conservatives and Progress will still have a problem. On the left side of politics, though, neither the Greens nor the Reds were doing as well as expected. Both were firmly below 4 percent, meaning neither could give much of a boost to Labour to form a socialist coalition.
Both of Labour’s potential government partners, the Center Party and Socialist Left party (SV), however, were doing well. Center claimed 9.9 percent of the vote with 38.2 percent of the vote counted, while SV had 5.9 percent. The non-socialists still, however, had a majority at that point, with 88 seats in Parliament compared to Labour’s coalition at 81.
While Progress Party faithful chanted “four new years” at their election night festivities at Grand Hotel, it still seemed destined to be a long night. A final result wasn’t expected until around midnight.