In September the Norwegians went to the polls for their General Election. The result was that the current Prime Mninster, Erna Solberg, stays in position with her Conservative-Populist coalition. Their supporting parties, the Christians ans the Liberals, have been somewhat diminished so it may prove harder for her to get legislation through (more on this in future posts). To begin with though, let’s pick over the results.
Red 2.4% 1 seat: As I’ve mentioned before the commies often get good poll results, but then fail on the last hurdle when it comes down to election day. They’ll be pleased, therefore, to have managed to gain a seat this time round. Although only one seat in Parliament still means they have to wait a while before the system of parliamentary democracy falls – at least now they can try to bring it down from within.
Socialists 6.0% 11 seats: A very good result for the Socialists. They will be delighted to have improved on their downward trajectory of the last three elections. However, they are, and ought to be, fuming that Labour Party let them down so sorely. They did their part, but Labour failed to do theirs to get a change of government for the socialist side.
Labour 27.4% 49 seats: This is a very poor result for the Labour Party. Their worst showing as an opposition party since 1924. The message was off, their image was off, they wish their leader had been off. It all went badly in short. To be fair, the Norwegian economy is going better and, given that, it would be hard to turf out a government. But Labour did know the economy was going better and had plenty of time to move away from the ‘end is nigh’ narrative they ended up going with.
Farmers 10.3% 19 seats: In a manner that never ceases to amaze this party of wolly-pully wearers resonated with a large number of people. Presumably people who think Norway’s economy should still be based on sheepherding and wolf baiting, but voters nonetheless. The Farmers managed to rally those against the Conservatives’ attempts to take Norway’s local government system out of the 1800s in a most effective way and will be delighted with their result. However, as with the Socialists, that delight will be tempered with anger that they nearly doubled their size, but the Labour Party’s woes mean they can’t enter government.
Greens 3.2% 1 seat: The green tsunami was more of a green splash. Many opinion polls had the Greens over the magical 4% mark, but sadly they were unable to make it over and their solitary MP will wonder the palaces of the mighty searching for Parliament recycling bins in which to drop their manifesto.
Christians 4.2% 8 seats: Having been piously glancing left and right in search of allies the party leaders should have paid greater attention to their own voters. In short the party elite are full of well meaning Christians with earnest expressions, clasped hands and lofty ideas about values and the importance of human dignity. They were quite happy to tempt the cuddly left side of politics with their centrist kingmaking ability. But, their voting base is made up by rednecked biblebashers in the south and west. A far cry from the well-meaning Oslo and Bergen elites of the party’s leadership. As a result they fell between two stools as many of the rednecks who wanted to go back to 1800 opted for the Farmers and the more immigrant-hating rednecks went for the Populists.
Liberals 4.4% 8 seats: “The only thing that needs explaining in Norwegian politics is why everyone doesn’t vote for the Liberals” – this is an old adage of Norwegian politics and it’s completely true. The Liberals try to be all things to all people; they love the environment, they love small businesses, they love schools, and researchers? Give us plenty of them too. The problem is that no one really listens to them. Or usually that is the case at least. Although this result is low, it is the first time in decades that they have made it over the 4% threshold two elections in a row. So kudos for that, I guess, even it did come from lots of Conservative voters holding their nose.
Conservatives 25.0% 45 seats: Speaking of the Conservatives, they did really rather well. Their Prime Minister stays in and is looking more and more with-it by the day. She is calm, collected, knows her policies in and out. Rather refreshing in a world were policy wonks are having a hard time shining through (see Trump and Brexit whatever the consequences). On the down side, the Oslo boys sipping champagne on daddy’s yacht will have to keep their braincell whirring to figure out how to deal with this new electoral situation, but that’s alright, they have the intoxicating access to power and pappy’s Chablis to get them through.
Populists 15.2% 27 seats: After a bit of a slump mid-election cycle the Populists have bounced back and have made a roaring trade on xenophobia and fear of immigrants and refugees. The election campaign started off with a debate about Norwegian values and how much brown cheese was needed on a waffle to make it fully Norwegian. The Populists made hay on that debate among people who feel unable to enjoy their waffles knowing that there are foreigners around who might take their waffles from them and try to put foreign muck like salami on them. But yes, I suppose that’s around 15% of voters, which is fine in the grand scheme of things.