Turning our gaze to Norwegian political affairs again, I realise I have been a little slow off the mark. The local elections were a month ago, but in sloth-like vain, I have yet to write up my report on it. Here goes.
(For an introduction to the parties, press here)
Socialists (SV) 4.1%: The worst thing about this election result, is that this is a good election result for the Socialists. With opinion-polling as low as 2.5%, there was a worry about utter meltdown in the lefty academics’ ranks. However, good news for the Socialists in that they got over 4% (an important symbolic number in Norwegian politics). They have been around 4% for the last three elections, and they will be pleased not to go backwards.
Labour (AP) 33.0%: A very good performance for the Labour Party. Not only are they by far the largest party, they also increase on their result from four years ago. It was a big test for their suave, French-diplomat resembling leader, as this was his first election and he had been branded as a poor debater in the election campaign. But winning Tromsø, Bergen and (by the looks of it) Oslo, as well as increasing their majority in Trondheim makes this a big success story for Labour.
Farmers (SP) 8.5%: Farmers have had a very good result. They’ve outdone themselves for recent times. (They used to be a force to be reckoned with, but that was back in agrarian days) Doing well mainly because they have marked themselves in opposition to many of the government reforms which shut down small hospitals in the provinces, centralise the police forces and merge municipalities. Impressive performance, but do keep in mind that the Farmers always do better in the local elections. It’s easier to vote for a farmer to go to village hall, than to vote for one to go to the big city of Oslo.
Greens (MDG) 4.2%: Lower than I anticipated that their vote would be, but the Greens were always going to do much better than last local elections (0.9%), and they have to be declared the big winners of the election. The Greens have done especially well in the big cities. 8.1% in Oslo, but not so well in the smaller towns and villages. In Oslo they are the kingmakers and it looks like they will elect to support Labour, as they seem to be doing almost everywhere else, which lends the lie to them being a block-neutral party.
Christians (Krf) 5.4%: The Christians go back 0.1%, so not much to write home about. But they will be disappointed as they thought their support for Syrian refugees and Sunday closing would be good issues to fight on. It seems however, that they are too closely tied to the right-wing government (Conservatives and Populists). The suave, handsome leader of the Labour party is looking increasingly attractive seen from Christian eyes.
Liberals (V) 5.5%: Liberals go down 0.7%, and have a relatively weak election. Like the Socialists they are being nibbled away at by the Greens.
Conservatives (H) 23.2%: This is a very bad election result for the Conservatives. They were expecting the personal popularity of PM Solberg to see them through, but they fall 4.8% from the last local election, and more important than the percentages they lose control of the major cities. One of the Conservatives’ main boasts was that over half of Norwegians have a Conservative as mayor. After Oslo and Bergen switched sides this isn’t even close to being true anymore. Now, even the Farmers have more mayors than the Conservatives (though mainly in places where about three men and a dog live).
Populists (FrP) 9.5%: I really didn’t expect the populists to fall below 10%. I thought that their hard-line rhetoric on refugees and immigration would push them just over 10%. As it is this is an important symbolic defeat of their record in government. Left with almost no mayors, several heavyweight populists have renewed calls to debate whether they should still be a part of the government. As an aside, Solberg (Conservative PM)’s husband told reporters at a boozy late night hustings that the Populists ought to withdraw from the government as they were being eaten away. Ms Solberg responded: “It’s a good job I’m the strategist in our family”. But Mr Solberg is right…. watch this space…