OSLO: Norway shifted right in elections on Monday (Tuesday in Manila), ending eight years of center-left rule and setting the stage for a new Conservative-led government with the populist anti-immigration Progress Party as junior partner.
Incumbent Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of the Labor Party conceded defeat late in the day, while his challenger, Conservative leader Erna Solberg, hailed “a historic election win.”
With three quarters of the votes counted, a bloc of four center-right parties had won 96 of 169 seats in parliament. Stoltenberg’s three-party coalition controlled 72, with one seat going to an independent environmental party.
“In accordance with Norwegian parliamentary tradition, I will seek the resignation of my government after the presentation of the national budget on October 14, when it’s clear that there is a parliamentary basis for a new government,” said Stoltenberg.
Just minutes afterwards, the nation’s likely next prime minister, 52-year-old Solberg, appeared in a triumphant mood in front of supporters in the Norwegian capital.
“Today the voters have produced a historic election victory for the right-wing parties,” she said.
The most often-cited scenario prior to the election has been for a minority government made up of the Conservatives and the Progress Party. As of Monday it was unclear if the smaller Christian Democrats and the Liberals would seek to join the government or act as legislative support.
The Progress Party looked set to lose 12 seats in parliament, which would leave it with 29. But it still treated the result as victory, as it now faced the first chance in its 40-year history of being part of a government.
“We are going to negotiate a platform for the government, and we have said throughout the campaign that we wanted to leave a serious footprint on the platform,” said Progress Party leader Siv Jensen.
Solberg’s victory, one of the largest in her party’s history, comes in spite of the fact that the oil-rich nation has fared exceptionally well under Stoltenberg.