Norway’s political left wins general election, early projections say

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The left-wing opposition in Norway has won the country’s general election, according to projections released as polls closed at 2100 CET on Monday.

Early results indicate the end of the centre-right government’s eight-year rule under Prime Minister Erna Solberg, following a campaign dominated by the future of the oil industry.

If the results are accurate, she looks set to be ousted by a left-wing coalition headed by Jonas Gahr Støre, a millionaire ally of former prime minister and now NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

The projections suggest that the five opposition parties should take 104 of the 169 seats in the Storting, the Norwegian parliament, enough to oust Solberg’s conservative coalition.

With 88 seats at the moment, Støre’s Labour Party could even win an absolute majority with his allies from the Socialist Left and Centre Party, without needing the help of the Communists and the Greens.

Opinion polls in the run-up to the vote predicted the election would be a setback for the incumbent Conservative government.

As Norwegians turned out to cast their ballots across the country, fears about climate change put the future of the oil and gas industry at the top of the campaign agenda.

Solberg’s conservatives and the Labour opposition both advocate for a gradual move away from the fossil fuels that continue to underpin the economy.

The larger parties rarely rule alone in Norway; smaller players are usually required to build a majority coalition, and they can have an outsize influence on the government agenda.

Some, like the Greens, are demanding a more radical severing with the country’s dominant industry and income stream.

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Støre — a 61-year-old millionaire who campaigned against social inequality — had rejected this, and a parliamentary majority would strengthen his stance.

Even so, negotiations to form a coalition government are likely to be long and delicate.

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