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Monday, May 27, 2024

Traditional school elections took a turn to the right

Results of this week’s national mock elections at schools around Norway showed another sharp decline for the incumbent Labour- and Center parties and major gains for the Conservatives and right-wing Progress Party. The leader of the Young Conservatives’ organization claims a “quiet conservative revolution” is underway.

These politically interested youth are too young to vote, but they were busy visiting political parties’ campaign booths in downtown Oslo on Wednesday. This one, the Conservatives’, won the national school election. PHOTO: Morten Møst

“This goes beyond all expectations,” Ola Svenneby, leader of Ung Høyre, exulted after results rolled in showing the Conservative Party (Høyre) as largest in the land with 21.9 percent of the vote. That’s up 8.9 points from the last school election before local elections nationwide in 2019.

Svenneby later ran into trouble for also claiming that “I think we can declare the Greta Thunberg generation dead,” referring to the young Swedish climate activist. He had to apologize on Wednesday, saying he hadn’t meant to suggest the Conservatives don’t want to tackle climate change. He wrote on social media that his claim wasn’t tied to climate engagement among young Norwegians, rather that they wouldn’t wrongfully be portrayed as radical or activists.

The conservative Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp) emerged as second-largest, with 19.5 percent of the vote, up 11.4 points from 2019. If the Conservatives, Progress, the Liberals (Venstre) and the Christian Democrats (KrF) were to join forces again, they’d claim 53.6 percent of the vote, and still have a majority even without KrF.

Results will of course vary from district to district in next week’s local elections but the school elections reflect an ongoing trend: Currently ruling Labour-led coalitions around the country have lost favour with voters. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and his state government coalition with the Center Party have struggled for months and that may be repeated locally. Labour fell 9.5 points in the school elections, to just 17 percent, while Center fell 2.1 points, to claim just 6 percent of the vote. That’s serious, since Center’s constituents are mostly in the districts, and not in Norway’s cities.

“This is lower than we had hoped for,” conceded Støre while attending yet another campaign rally tied to the school elections. “There’s a conservative wind blowing among youth in this school election, but the main election is on Monday.” Berglund



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