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Norway sees final day of voting in election fought on oil

The candidates for Norway's prime minister: Erna Solberg from the Conservatives (left) and Jonas Gahr Store from Labour Party (right)

The candidates for Norway's prime minister: Erna Solberg from the Conservatives (left) and Jonas Gahr Store from Labour Party (right)

Voters in Norway head to the polls Monday, the last day to cast ballots in the country's parliamentary elections.

The issues of climate change and economic inequality have dominated campaigning and the outcome could influence oil activities in Western Europe's largest producer.

What's the likely outcome of the election?

It is expected that the center-left opposition headed by the Labor Party will topple Prime Minister Erna Solberg's Conservative Party, which has governed for the past eight years.

Labor Party leader Jonas Gahr Stoere is projected to become the next prime Minister. The 61-year-old millionaire has campaigned against social inequality,

Stoere previously served as foreign minister from 2005-2013 under then-Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who is now NATO Secretary General.

Labor will need support from two or more parties depending on how the vote goes to form a coalition.

There are hopes within the Labor camp that the Center Party and the Socialist Left will win a majority which would be sufficient to avoid having the communist Red Party or the Green Party figure in the coalition.

The leftward shift in Norway's politics would also put Norway more on par politically with Scandinavian neighbors Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

Why the Norwegian election matters

Norway is an affluent, oil-rich country that is not an EU member state. It has the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, thanks in no small part to the financial windfalls brought about by the country's significant fossil fuels sector since the 1960s.

GDP from the sector is at 14% and 40% of all exports are oil and gas. Petroleum accounts for 160,000 jobs.

In August, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report dropped declaring a "code red for humanity," the election campaign pivoted to matters of climate change, favoring parties that had put the issue at the forefront of their agenda.

Stoere's Labour Party wants a gradual, rather than immediate, reduction in the Norwegian economy's reliance on oil and gas sector, unlike parties further to the left that may form part of a ruling coalition.

After casting his ballot, Stoere told reporters, "I believe that calling time on our oil and gas industry is the wrong industrial policy and the wrong climate policy."

ar/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters)


Updated : 2021-09-21 20:28 GMT+08:00