Norway general elections- landslide victory for the left parties

 Labour party led left parties won 100 seats out of 169 while ruling conservative won 68 seats 

The Labour Party led Left block has won the clear majority in the general elections in Norway. Labour Party and its two allies, the Socialist Left and the Center Party — would hold 100 seats in the 169-seat strong assembly while the current government would get 68.

 It means that 8 years long Conservative rule came to an end. The ruling Conservative block has conceded defeat. One seat is still undecided.

Nearly 3.9 million Norwegians were eligible to vote and more than 1.6 million of them voted in advance, according to Norway’s election commission. Turnout was 76.3 %, down from more than 78 % in this nation of 5.3 million voted.

After Left block’s victory in Norway, the five countries in the Nordic region -- a bastion of social democracy -- will thus all be governed by left-wing governments soon.

A day after winning Norway's general election, left-wing parties kicked off thorny talks to form a government replacing the centre-right in power for eight years.

Jonas Gahr Store, a millionaire who is set to become the next prime minister, is expected to try to build a three-party coalition with his Labour Party, the Centre Party and Socialist Left. He made inequality as the main slogan of his election campaign. He won the election on the slogan of fairer society.

The trio won an absolute majority with 89 of 169 seats in parliament, according to preliminary election results. The left alliance has won nearly 50% of the popular vote. Labour Party got 24.1%, Centre Party 17.7% and Socialist Left 7.8% votes.  Mr Store, who campaigned against social inequalities, held his first informal consultations today with the Centre Party and the Socialist Left.

He also said he would meet with other members of the current opposition, the Greens, who won three seats, and the communist Red Party, which took eight seats. The results are showing that electoral in Norway has moved to the left.

The election campaign was dominated by two issues, the climate change and the future of the country’s oil and gas exploration industry. Labour has promised an industrial policy that will funnel support to new green industries, like wind power, “blue hydrogen” that uses natural gas to produce an alternative fuel, and carbon capture and storage, which seeks to bury carbon dioxide under the ocean.

The Conservatives suffered a setback, losing 4.7 percentage points which was dubbed by Norwegian broadcaster NRK as “the election’s biggest loser.” Its former coalition partner, the Progress Party lost 3.4 percentage points.

The campaign focused on the North Sea oil and gas that has helped makes Norway one of the world’s wealthiest countries. But fears about climate change have put the future of the industry in doubt. The country’s biggest industry is responsible for over 40 percent of exports and directly employs more than 5 percent of the workforce.

On the other hand, Norwegians are among the most climate-conscious consumers in the world, with most new car purchases now being electric.

Most of Norway’s oil and gas still comes from mature areas in the North Sea, but most of the country’s untapped reserves are in the Barents Sea, above the Arctic Circle. That is a red line for environmentalists, who could play a crucial role in securing a majority government.

After Left block’s victory in Norway, the five countries in the Nordic region -- a bastion of social democracy -- will thus all be governed by left-wing governments soon.

The August "code red for humanity" report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put the issue at the top of the agenda for the election campaign and forced the country to reflect on the oil that has made it immensely rich. 

The report energised those who want to get rid of oil, both on the left and, to a lesser extent, the right.

The oil sector accounts for 14 percent of Norway's gross domestic product, as well as 40 percent of its exports and 160,000 direct jobs.

In addition, the cash cow has helped the country of 5.4 million people amass the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund, today worth close to 12 trillion kroner (almost 1.2 trillion euros, $1.4 trillion). 

                                                             Khalid Bhatti

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