After Norway election, Labor leader poised to become new PM

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CORRECTION Norway Elections (NTB)
CORRECTION Norway Elections (NTB)

The leader of Norway’s Labor Party is to start talks Tuesday in an attempt to build a coalition after the center-left bloc beat the incumbent Conservatives and won Norway s general elections.

With all votes now counted, the Labor Party and its two left-leaning allies — the Socialist Left and the euroskeptic Center Party — grabbed 100 seats in the 169-seat Stortinget assembly while the current government would get 68. The last seat is going to a northern Norway health-focused protest party, Pasientfokus.

The outgoing assembly was 88-81 in favor of the center-right led by Prime Minister Erna Solberg who was ousted after two four-year terms in the job. Her party also suffered a huge loss — nine seats.

Monday’s result means that currently all five Nordic countries now have left-leaning governments.

Jonas Gahr Stoere, the Labor leader, said he would start talks with Norway’s third largest group, the Center Party, and its leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum. That party made the largest gain and grabbed nine seats. Gahr Stoere also will meet the media later while Solberg is scheduling a news conference to talk about the election outcome.

Any post-election horse trading is likely to be fraught for the Labor Party and Gahr Stoere. The Socialist Left won’t offer its support lightly and the Center Party is also demanding a more aggressive approach toward shifting to renewable energy.

Gahr Stoere, who is poised to become prime minister, is a 61-year-old former civil servant. He also owns a large part of his family’s company, and most the fortune there comes from the sale in 1977 of a Norwegian company that made cast iron stoves and fireplaces.

Gahr Stoere also served as foreign minister from 2005-2013 under then-Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg He took over the reins of the party when Stoltenberg became NATO secretary general.

Nearly 3.9 million Norwegians were eligible and more than 1.6 million of them voted in advance, according to Norway’s election commission. Turnout was 76.5%, down from more than 78% last time.

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