Prime minister loses support

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Conservatives leader Erna Solberg has ranked as a highly popular prime minister in recent years, until now. A new poll this week indicates she’s lost a lot of voter support just in the past month.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg and her husband, Sindre Finnes, ran into trouble when they gathered with family in Geilo to celebrate her 60th birthday in February. Now Solberg’s popularity has tumbled in a recent public opinion poll. PHOTO: Facebook screen grab

The poll, conducted by research firm Norstat for state broadcaster NRK, shows Solberg’s voter support falling from 58 percent in February to just 46 percent in March. At the same time, her main rival Jonas Gahr Støre of the Labour Party has seen his popularity rise from just 27 percent to 34 percent. Around 20 percent of those questioned had no opinion when asked who they felt was “best-suited” to be prime minister.

The poll questioned 1,000 voters around Norway between March 23 and March 28. That was just after NRK had reported that Solberg’s own family had violated her government’s Corona containment measures when they gathered in the mountain town of Geilo in late February to celebrate her 60th birthday. Solberg missed her own dinner party at a local restaurant but was in the family’s rented apartment in Geilo when around 14 family members gathered for takeaway sushi. That was more than the 10 allowed at the time.

One of her top political advisers was also involved when the Conservatives’ mayor in Molde blamed Labour’s city government in Oslo for failing to contain Corona infection in the capital. That also ended in controversy.

“You don’t need to be a professor in political science to see that there are probably some voters out there who want to rap Erna over the knuckles for the trip to Geilo,” one of Solberg’s own government ministers, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, told NRK. He stressed that Solberg has apologized for the Geilo trip on several occasions. Researcher Johannes Bergh agreed that the recent negative media reports involving Solberg have had an effect.

Støre said he thinks the government and health authorities have done a good job of handling the Corona crisis, but have recently faced criticism over border control and breaking rules. He noted that it was “nice” to see support for him had grown but stressed that polls aren’t decisive. He also still trails Solberg by a wide margin.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund