Large parties jump during virus crisis

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Norway’s Labour and Conservative parties have both attracted many more voters during the Corona crisis, according to a new public opinion poll. Their gains come at the expense of other smaller parties, not least four that now, quipped one commentator, seem to require intensive care.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg of the Conservatives and Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre, shown here in Parliament, have won the biggest gains from voters during the Corona crisis. PHOTO: Stortinget

All four of them (the Reds, the Greens, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals) fell below the 4 percent level needed for full representation in Parliament. The Christian Democrats wound up with only 2.8 percent of the vote, even though they’re in the government coalition led by the Conservatives that scored the biggest gain of five full points, to claim 24.9 percent.

The Liberals claimed just 3.6 percent of the vote in the poll, conducted by research firm Norstat for newspaper Aftenposten and state broadcaster NRK. The poor showing was up from February but still below the important 4 percent level, even though several of its government ministers have taken part in almost daily press conferences lately and have political control over important ministries such as culture and not least business and trade.

Reds and Greens ‘excluded’ from Corona debate
The Reds and Greens parties both ended up with 3.7 percent of the vote, slightly ahead of the Liberals but complaining that they suddenly both seem to lack any influence in Corona-related matters. Each only has one seat in Parliament at present but Reds leader Bjørnar Moxnes has been highly visible and also taken the initiative on several major issues earlier in the current parliamentary session.

Now both he and Greens MP Une Aina Bastholm claim they’ve been kept out of negotiations among the other opposition parties in Parliament over Corona crisis measures. “There was an agreement that we (party representatives on the finance committee) would meet at 5pm on Monday,” Bastholm told newspaper Klassekampen on Wednesday. She said the meeting was delayed, and delayed again. “On Monday night we got the message that the other parties would seek an agreement first, and then orient us about what they agreed upon,” Bastholm said. An agreement finally was struck around 2am Tuesday.

Moxnes stressed that both his party and the Greens “go far in being  constructive in negotiations.” Instead, “we represent voters and interests that don’t get a seat around the negotiating table,” he said. “We haven’t received any reason as to why that is.” Other party officials have denied they’re being excluded, and rather have been kept informed.

Erna wins prime minister vote
Labour, meanwhile, remained Norway’s largest party, up two full points to claim 25.7 percent of the vote. Its potential government partners fell, with the Center Party down to 15.3 percent and the Socialist Left falling to 7.2 percent. Collectively, though, they still command more more of the vote (48.2 percent) than Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s coalition, which currently claims just 31.3 percent since her junior partners have shrunk.

The conservative Progress Party, which withdrew from the Conservative coalition in January and jumped in the polls last month, slid again in March. Progress can claim just 12 percent of the vote at present. That means that even if Progress supports Solberg’s coalition, they’d still trail the left-center coalition.

Solberg herself, however, seems to have won voters’ hearts as their prime minister of choice. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that she personally garnered around 55 percent in a separate survey, roughly twice the support given to Labour leader Jonas Gahr Støre.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund