Prime Minister Erna Solberg, leader of Norway’s Conservatives, was winning kudos this week for quickly congratulating Jonas Gahr Støre after his Labour Party won the most votes of any other party in Monday’s national election. He in turn thanked her publicly for leading the country for the past eight years, and then praised her leadership.
The contrast to the situation last fall in the US, and after elections in several other countries, could hardly be greater. Norway, however, prides itself on trying to maintain a high degree of civility and mutual respect among top politicians, even though this year’s campaign was soiled by some social media harassment and far right-wing bullies.
“Democracy has no greater or more important hero figures than the good losers after an election,” commentator Halvor Hegtun wrote in newspaper Aftenposten this week. Solberg was among such “good losers” when voters failed to renew her own grip on power, even after she’d worked day and night to get Norway through the Corona crisis with some of the best results in the world.
Støre responded by not only thanking but also praising her in his acceptance speech, calling her a “good prime minister,” and his Labour Party faithful responded with applause. It’s a good omen as Støre and his political allies now huddle to form a new government made up of three left-center parties that have lots of differences amongst them. Norway is nonetheless due for a smooth transfer of power in mid-October.