Poll ‘crisis’ for the government, too

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As Prime Minister Erna Solberg struggles to keep her government coalition together, two new public opinion polls in the past week indicate she’s also losing voter support. Her Conservative party has fallen in the polls, after months of decline for her partners.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg, shown here announcing a cabinet change in her government last month, is struggling to keep her government coalition intact. PHOTO: NRK screen grab

“Krisemaling” (crisis poll) read the banner headline for the latest poll, conducted by research firm Opinion for newspaper Dagsavisen, new bureau ANB and the labour news service FriFagbevegelse. Solberg’s Conservatives fell to 18.7 percent of the vote according to the poll results, down from the 25 percent actually won in the last election.

That followed a decline in an earlier poll revealed last weekend as well, conducted by Norfakta for newspapers Klassekampen and Nationen. It showed the Conservatives with 21.3 percent, but both show Solberg’s party badly trailing Labour and other opposition parties.

Now only third-biggest
Solberg’s coalition partner the Progress Party lost its standing as Norway’s third-biggest party last fall, replaced by the resurgent Center Party. Labour, the Conservatives and Center were all polled as holding around 20 percent of the vote at the time, ushering in what commentators called “a new political reality” of fragmentation in Norway. Now Center has even surpassed the Conservatives. It held 20.9 percent in the latest poll, bigger than Solberg’s party and trailing Labour by just 4.6 points.

That left Labour biggest, with 25.5 percent of the vote, followed by Center at 20.9 percent and then the Conservatives at 18.7. Progress is now only fourth-biggest, with 11.8 percent in the newest poll and just 10.9 percent in the weekend poll. That compares to the last parliamentary election result of 16.3 percent.

Restless partners
The poor numbers for the government parties help explain why Solberg’s partners are so restless, not least with her smallest partners down at pathetically weak voter support of just 2.5 percent for the Christian Democrats and 2.7 percent for the Liberals. Collectively that indicates that Solberg’s government current holds just 35.7 percent of the vote. If Progress leaves her government, it’s highly unclear whether or how long she’ll be able to retain government power. They’d only prevail on most issues if Progress votes with them from a new presence in the opposition.

It’s definitely been a tough week for Solberg, as she faced a new set of demands from her Progress Party partner on Thursday. Commentators were increasingly pessimistic as the day wore on over whether Solberg’s conservative coalition will meet the as-yet unspecified demands from Progress and survive all the dissent among her government partners.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund