Norway Labour leader Jonas Gahr Store
(Norway's Labour leader Jonas Gahr Store)

Labour Party wins most seats in Norway’s general election


Norway’s opposition Labour party has won the Nordic country’s general election, bringing an end to eight years of conservative government under Erna Solberg.

“We waited, we hoped, and we have worked so hard, and now we can finally say it: We did it!” said Labour leader Jonas Gahr Store who is set to be Norway’s next prime minister, if he can strike the expected deal with  his party’s two left-leaning allies the Socialist Left (SV) and the euroskeptic Centre party (Sp).

With all votes now counted, the Labor Party, the SV and Sp — grabbed 100 seats in the 169-seat Stortinget assembly while the current government would get only 68. The last seat is going to a northern Norway health-focused protest party, Pasientfokus.

“As the biggest party, we will make sure that Norway will get a new government and a new course,” the Labour leader said in a speech to party members. “In the coming days, I will invite the leaders of all parties who want a change.”

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said earlier this year that it expected oil production to keep rising in the next few years, from 1.7 million barrels a day in 2020 to just over 2 million a day in 2025. But it has also pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030, way ahead of many other rich countries.

A Store-led government will mean that all five Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway) are now led by left-wing parties for first time in 62 years.

The campaign in the run-up to the vote was dominated by Norway’s status as western Europe’s biggest oil producer. The oil sector accounts for 14 percent of country’s gross domestic product, as well as 40 percent of its exports and employs 160,000 people directly.

The North Sea oil and gas also helped the country of 5.4 million people amass the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, today worth close to 12 trillion kroner ($1.4 trillion). Store’s party has promised an industrial policy that will funnel support to new green industries, a gradual transition away from the oil economy and a focus on cutting the country’s CO2 emissions in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Born in 1960, Stoere grew up in Oslo and studied political science at Sciences Po in Paris from 1981 to 1985. He is a former civil servant who was elected to the Stortinget in 2009. He also served as  Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2005 to 2012 and as Minister of Health and Care Services from 2012 to 2013 under then-Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and took over the reins of the party when Stoltenberg was appointed  Secretary General of NATO.

Store has also pledged to address social inequality in wealthy Norway, by cutting taxes for low and middle-income families and increasing rates for the rich. “Now it’s the turn of the ordinary people,” the multimillionaire- who at first glance doesn’t have much in common with the average Norwegian- hammered throughout the campaign.

His crusade may seem odd for someone whose wealth has been estimated at 140 million kroner (around 14 millions euros, $16 million). “My finances are not ordinary, but many things about me are,” he told AFP.

With reporting The Local Norway, Reuters, AFP