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Red-green coalition wins the Norwegian election

by Gjermund E Jansen Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 02:32:40 AM EST

From the diaries (with minor edits) ~ whataboutbob

The wind of election seems to blow over Europe this year and on Monday the 12th of September it reached Norway just a week before the grand finale in Germany.  The results from the Norwegian election so far, when 91 percent of the ballots had been counted, seems to signal a changing of the guard from the centre-right government led by Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik of the Christian Peoples Party, to a new red-green government led by the Labour party leader Jens Stoltenberg.  The two victors of the parliamentary election were the Labour Party which ended up with 32.6 percent of the votes and 62 parliamentary representatives and the far right Progress Party with 22.1 percent of the total votes and 37 parliamentary representatives out of a total 169 of representatives in the Norwegian parliament.  

The first polls turned out very well in favour of the new red-green coalition, but as the election campaign progressed the centre-right government slammed the red-green opposition and labelled it a political experiment with no hope of survival.  At the very end of the campaign the centre-right government gained support and the election seemed to end up in a tie with no clear outcome.  It was not before the poll stations closed at eight o'clock on Monday that the political commentators could sense in which direction the political winds would blow ending up in a preliminary 88 to 81 in parliamentary seats in favour of the red-green coalition.  


During the post-election party leader debate the three centre-right coalition partners blamed the leader of the Progress Party Carl. I. Hagen for withdrawing his party's support for their government coalition and thus creating insecurity about the life of the centre-right government after the election.

Mr. Hagen had given the centre-right government coalition an ultimatum in June saying that if they were not prepared to let him join the government after the election he would withdraw his support for the coalition.  The idea was to isolate and outmanoeuvre the incumbent Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and go into government talks with the other two government coalition parties in an effort to create a majority government including the Progress Party.  But the plan backfired when the other two parties' of the centre-right government declined Mr. Hagen's offer and instead swore their allegiance to the Prime Minister.

The Labour party leader Jens Stoltenberg used Mr. Hagen's withdrawl of his support to the incumbent government for what it was worth during the last weeks of the campaign.  Hammering one nail after the other into the centre-right government coffin, he pointed to the fact that now, with a minority backing in the parliament, the centre-right coalition was dead  and that the only realistic government alternative  after the election was in fact the red-green coalition.  

This article is also available at Bitsofnews.com.

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Thanks for this informative article.  Can you give us some idea of how government policies might change as a result of the election?
by corncam on Mon Sep 12th, 2005 at 09:54:31 PM EST
During the election campaign the red-green three party coalition focused on three main issues.  For SV, Socialist leftist party an important requirement to enter the coalition government would undoubtedly be an upgrade of the school-system and the availability of cheap kindergartens.  

As for the Senterpartiet, Agrarian party, will want a greater focus on the rural areas and greater funding of less developed parts of the country.

The big brother of the coalition, the Labour Party itself, has campaign on reducing the unemployment and a more active and hands on industrial policy.  They are all also committed to the withdrawal of the remaining Norwegian troops from Iraq.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Mon Sep 12th, 2005 at 10:41:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gjermund, thanks for this news.  It's always exciting when the government changes in favour of the progressive side of politics.  Can you keep us posted on how the new government proceeds?
by canberra boy (canberraboy1 at gmail dot com) on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 12:07:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I will do my best.  And I am under the impression that there are a number of Norwegians here who can help me cover the story.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 12:00:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.

How is the current oil windfall discussed? Is it a case of spend now for social needs (presumably the left) vs keep it for the future? Or has this not been debated?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 03:41:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is an interesting question because it has been the rightwing Progress Party (FRP) that has campaigned the most for spending more of the oil-revenues.  This is what you can call an unconditional spending with little or no concern  for the risk of inflation. Besides being a righwing party the Progress party also has populist roots.  At the moment they are probably the party that advocates the most government spending.  

The Socialist Left (SV) belonging to the red-green coalition has also campaigned for more spending but to a lesser extent.  Some of the reason for this could be the fact that the big brother the Labour Party has always been strict on not spending to much of the oil-revenues and instead putting them to good use in the petroleum fund intended to finance the public pensions for the future.  

So all in all the division over spending more oil money or not has not followed the the traditional left-right divide but more a line between those party's that has had an experience in government and those who have not.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 11:45:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gjermund,

Thanks for posting the information on the elections. I had heard little about them unfortunately.

Please do give us some of your thoughts about the quality of the coalition...an effective government?

by gradinski chai on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 02:40:39 AM EST
It is hard to say due to the fact that this has never been tried before.  When ever we have had a leftwing government before the Labour party has ruled alone.  

During the campaign however the three parties seemed to tow the same line, so that might indicate that they have reached a workable and mutual understanding.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 11:57:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Red-green coalition wins the Norwegian election

HOOOOOORAY!!!!

(BTW, I was wondering about the lack of coverage by our regular Norwegian crew... where is frontpager Sirocco?)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 04:22:52 AM EST
Glad you wrote this up. Partly because it means I won't have to.

And we're getting rid of Bondevik. I am pleased.

I was a bit surprised that it hadn't been diaried already, though, considering the massive amounts of Norwegians around here.

by HPA on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 04:39:36 AM EST
And we're getting rid of Bondevik. I am pleased.

Could you write us non-Norwegians about why you disliked Bondevik? More generally, about what we should know about some of the parties and who are the key persons?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 05:01:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On my part it's mostly an extreme dislike of anyone mixing religion and politics. That most certainly includes Bondevik and his Christian Democrats.

And yeah, their politics aren't my cup of tea either.

Wikipedia has (as far as I could tell by skimming) a perfectly decent write-up of the political parties in Norway, here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Political_parties_in_Norway

The largest broadsheet in Norway has a good section of news in English, here:

http://www.aftenposten.no/english

by HPA on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 05:46:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Before the election Inge Lønning, the deputy speaker of the Norwegian Parliament, asked what is the similarity between Iran and Norway?  They are both ruled by the clergy.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 11:51:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From German paper Die Zeit:

Left (together still 88 seats):
Left-socialists (Greens+hard right) 8.7% (-3.8)
Labour (social democrats) 32.7% (+8.4)
Centre (agrarian lobby, anti-EU) 6.5% (+0.9)

Right (together still 81 seats):
Christian People's Party (centrist onservatives) 6.8% (-5.6)
Right (centre-right) 14.1% (-7.1)
Progressive Party (libertarian far-right) 22.1% (+7.4)

Tough I seem to recall Sirocco lecturing me about the Scandinavian far-right, especially his native one, being much more benign than what is characterised as such more to the South, I find the last numbers quite shocking: more than half of all conservative voters are far-right voters!

While in Austria, allying with the far-right ultimately worked out for the centre-right (chancellor Schüssel facilitated the self-destruction of Haider and his party), in Norway, accepting outside support for their minority government apparently had the opposite result.

BTW, Gjermund or another Norwegian here, could you please give us election junkees who can't speak Norwegian a link to watch, a link to some official election site or an up-to-date and detailed election chart on a Norwegian news site?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 04:57:58 AM EST
Via Afterposten HPA suggested. While the Progress Party is 0.1% down and the Left-socialists 0.1% up, the balance in seats moved the other way: 87:82.

Probable reason for discrepancy: DieZeit apparently left out the Left party (liberal, but part of the conservative coalition), which stands at 5.9% (+2.0).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 07:53:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This expression is a bit misleading when talking about parties like The Progress Party I think. On economic issues they are rather centrist aren't they? We have a lot of succesfull politicians that in Europe: a combination of economic centrism, some moral conservatism and a heavy dose of racism/antiimmigration sentiments. Politicians that pride themselves on saying out loud what  "people really think", anti-pc stuff.
by swedish liberal on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 05:45:39 AM EST
Centrist on economics? A libertarian party?

These things I found at Wikipedia (thanks for the suggestion to HPA):

brochures and Web pages that criminalised immigrants, with the slogan «The assailant is of foreign origin!», followed, in much smaller font, by (headline we often read), and with pictures of criminals with middle-eastern traits waving guns at the viewer...

Hagen also claimed, in an interview, that "Not all muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are muslim". Upon question of why he did not consider terrorism in the Basque country and Northern Ireland, he replied that these were "national conflicts, and [had] nothing to do with this"

...are very much Haider-like, maybe even beyond him.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 08:11:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not particularly centrist;
The populist Progress Party, which campaigned on a platform of both increased spending and lower taxes, emerged as a big winner - and as the largest right-of-centre party in Monday's poll.
(FT-link from soj's PDB)

The PP is an opportunistic cut-taxes party founded in the 70's which never had the responsibility to govern.

by ask on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 08:14:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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