All You Need to Know About Norway Parliamentary Elections

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Norway is having a new election excitement today. The recent polls show red and blue parties are close to each other. The current prime minister Erna Solberg (Conservative-Høyre) has turned into a people’s favorite and will try to keep his office with new coalition partners. Labor Party (Ap) and its leader Jonas Gahr Støre is the biggest opponent of the prime minister. Also in many polls, Labor Party is the number one choice of Norwegians.

Although the opposition received more votes in the previous election, the governing Høyre and right-wing FrP obtained formed the government with external support of Christian Democrats (KrF) and Liberals (Venstre). But KrF declared that they will not support a government with FrP again. The third biggest party, FrP is a disputed issue as almost few of the parties want a coalition with them due to their aggressive privatization policies, anti-social welfare stance and fierce immigration rhetoric.

But the biggest surprise of this year’s election is the abrupt rise of environmentalist Green Party. The party managed to climb up to 5 percent level among 20 participating political parties.  They will have a key role in this election as a center party together with Venstre and Senter Partiet.

All Participating Parties

Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet), leader: Jonas Gahr Støre. The Labour Party was the largest party in the 2009–2013 Storting, and the majority party in the former leader and current NATO leader Stoltenberg’s Second Cabinet. They got 35.4% of the votes and won 64 seats in the 2009 election. They are number one party according to recent poles. The party is primarily social democratic.

Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet), leader: Siv Jensen. The Progress Party is the partner of the centre-right coalition of the Conservative Party and the Progress Party, relying on parliamentary support from the Liberal Party and the Christian Democratic Party. The party is primarily right-libertarian, with conservative and nationalist factions.

Conservative Party (Høyre), leader: Erna Solberg. The Conservative Party is the second-largest party and the leading partner of the current cabinet. The party has increased its votes according to most of the public opinion polls in early 2013.

Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Vensterparti), leader: Audun Lysbakken. The Socialist Left Party  is a democratic socialist party. They had been one of the main partners of Stoltenberg’s cabinets.

Centre Party (Senterpartiet), leader: Trygve Slagsvold Vedum. The Centre Party is the fourth-largest party. It is agrarian and staunchly eurosceptic  party which is not based on any of the major ideologies of the 19th and 20th century, but has a focus on maintaining decentralised economic development and political decision-making. Previously it was partner of Stoltenberg’s cabinet.

Christian Democratic Party (Kristelig Folkeparti), leader: Knut Arild Hareide. The party follows their European counterparts in many ways, positioning themselves as a family-friendly party. While founded on the basis of advocating moral-cultural Christian issues, the party has broadened its political profile over time, although Christian values remains its core distinction. It is considered an overall centrist party, combining socially conservative views with more left-leaning economic positions. The party supports the current coalition but because of their ideological differences with FrP, they declared they will not support any coalition with FrP. They have a key role for both left and right wing parties in forming coalition.

Liberal Party (Venstre), leader: Trine Skei Grande. The Liberal Party is a centrist, green and liberal party. They earned 5.2% of the votes in the 2013 elections. Like KrF, they are external supporter of the current government.

Red Party (Rødt), leader: Bjørnar Moxnes. The Red Party is a marxist political party of the radical left. They failed to get any parliamentary seats in the 2013 general election, with their 1.8% of the votes.

Pensioners’ Party (Pensjonistpartiet), leader: Einar Lonstad. Following the last legislative election in Norway, the Pensioners’ Party became the 9th largest party, with 0.4% of the votes. The party primarily serves to promote the interests of pensioners and elderly people. They will only run in 12 counties.

Green Party (Miljøpartiet de Grønne), leaders: Une Aina Bastholm and Rasmus Hansson. The Greens experienced what has been described as a breakthrough in the 2011 Norwegian local elections, and have since been considered as a serious competitor in the upcoming election. They managed to increase their votes up to 5% and are considered as game changer for the upcoming coalition as a centrist party.

Coastal Party (Kystpartiet), leader: Bengt Stabrun Johansen. A national conservative party, known for defending the rights of fishermen and whalers in Northern Norway. They received 0,2% of the votes in the 2009 elections, but has been as high as 10%, in the county of Nordland, in 2001, when they also secured a single seat in the parliament, held by well-known whaling activist Steinar Bastesen. The party will run in all counties.

Pirate Party (Piratpartiet), leader: Øystein Jakobsen. Founded on the basis of the better-known international Pirate Parties in late 2012. Their main cause is transparency in government. This will be their first election. They will run in all counties.

Election system in Norway

Norway elects its legislature on a national level. The parliament, the Storting (or Stortinget by Norwegian grammar), has 169 members elected for a four year term (during which it may not be dissolved) by the proportional representation in multi-seat constituencies.

Norway has a multi-party system, with numerous parties in which no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments and/or minority cabinets.

In Norway, elections are held every second year, alternating between elections for the Parliament and local elections, both of which are held every four years.

Suffrage is universal from the year a person turns 18 years old, even if the person turns 18 later in the year the election is held. Only Norwegian citizens can vote in the Parliamentary elections, but foreigners who have lived in Norway for three years continuously can vote in the local elections. Women’s suffrage was adopted in 1913.

The King of Norway is not considered a “citizen” and cannot vote. The queen and crown prince are eligible to vote but traditionally do not do so.

The last elections were the 2015 local elections, on 13 September.

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