Norway’s next generation has spoken, and they prefer new national political leadership from the left side of Norwegian politics. Jonas Gahr Støre and his Labour Party trounced the Conservatives in the traditional election held at high schools all over the country on Tuesday.
Labour won 23.3 percent of the vote, 4.5 points less than before the last election in 2017 but nonetheless allowing Labour to emerge as Norway’s largest party, at least after ballots were cast by Norwegians aged 17-19.
The Conservatives won just 13.5 percent of the vote, and were even beaten by the more conservative Progress Party, which won 13.9 percent. Both Progress and the centrist Liberals, meanwhile, scored large gains over the results of the traditional school election four years ago.
Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre hopes to form a new left-center government after Monday’s parliamentary election, along with the Center- and Socialist Left (SV) parties. SV scored a major gain among young voters, claiming 12.7 percent of the vote, up 2.7 points over the school election in 2017. Center won 8 percent, much less than public opinion polls otherwise have indicated among adult voters, but 1.2 points more than four years ago.
All told, the school election results firm up Støre’s candidacy as Norway’s next prime minister, but with a minority government holding 44 percent of the vote. He’ll need support from the Reds and Greens party, and they at least won that from voters. With the Reds’ 4.6 percent and the Greens’ 6 percent, Støre would have a solid majority in Parliament.
The school election results are taken seriously by all involved in Norway, and often reflect actual Election Day results. Tuesday’s election also reflected months of public opinion polls indicating that the left-center side will win government power away from Prime Minister Erna Solberg and her Conservatives-led coalition.
Solberg’s Conservatives fared poorly, with less than 14 percent of the vote, and one of her current coalition partners, the Christian Democrats, all but collapsed. They scored only 2 percent of the vote at an election held just a day after Christian Democrats leader Kjell Ingolf Ropstad was reported to have exploited state housing benefits for top politicians working from Oslo. His party had already been limping along for months, and now appears to be a shadow of its former self.
Solberg’s other government partner, the Liberals, did very well in the school elections, winning 10.7 percent of the vote. That won’t help win the coalition a third term in office, though, with just 26.2 percent of the vote. Their former former government partner, Progress, won 13.9 percent, even more than the Conservatives but still not enough to give the conservative side a majority.
That brings Støre closer to his goal of taking over government power. Labour’s youth organization, AUF, was cheering loudly after school election results ticked in Tuesday night. The actual election results are expected next Monday night, and then government negotiations will begin.