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Norway couch potatoes voting from home

One third of all voters in local elections in Norway has changed loyalties and will vote for another party after taking an online test of their views versus those of party candidates.

Many of Norway’s news outlets have been sporting new valgautomater, or vote machines, with many claiming participants were changing parties after taking online tests of their views. Nearly a decade old, the electronic quizzes have become more convincing than ever.

Broadcaster NRK’s e-vote quiz starts by asking which municipality one lives in, and then asks what party one thinks one ought to vote for. It then asks how strongly you agree with political statements on 22 local issues and how important they are.

The results helped many vote online rather than visit public buildings with their election stations. Midnight Saturday marked the end of online voting.

“Most people say they like sitting in peace and calm at home when they vote and for example look up candidate lists from other parties (online),” said Radøy municipality’s e-vote overseer, Tove Thomassen, to newspaper Bergens Tidende.

“We are very satisfied that so many have voted electronically,” said Thomassen.

In addition to the e-tests of voter views, three-quarters of all early voting was registered online: 48-year-olds overtook 20-somethings to become the leading demographic to vote from laptops on sofas and office blocks.

Voters could also inspect an interactive, online map showing the state of their municipality’s finances, including scores for healthcare, schools, kindergartens, culture and costs.

Electronic vote counts appeared to temper predictions of political change in the capital, Oslo, and in the old German trading town of Bergen. In cosmopolitan Oslo, a Labour Party decimated this summer by a gunman’s murderous attack on its youth wing was seen benefiting from a wave of sympathy able to replace the well-ensconced and poll-leading Conservative Party candidate.

An electronic poll on Sunday by newspaper Aftenposten gave the coalition’s Socialist Left party 5.2 percent of the vote. The party’s political victories included edging government away from drilling for oil in the pristine Lofoten Islands, the right to daycare and a wealth tax on the country’s rich which in 2011 saw the wealthy taxed for the first time on their assets as well as their taxable income.

Party leader Kristin Halvorsen had served as finance minister in coalition with Labour and the agrarian Centre party.

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POLITICS

Could Norway see an influx of Russians at its shared border?  

Finland has said it has seen a surge in people at its border after Moscow's military call-up announcement. So, what is the situation like at Norway's shared border with Russia? 

Could Norway see an influx of Russians at its shared border?  

Last week, Russia announced that it would draft new conscriptions as part of a further mobilisation in Ukraine. 

This has led to an exodus of Russian citizens trying to leave the country and avoid being drafted into the military. 

Finland said on Monday that more Russians entered the country over the weekend than in any other this year so far after Moscow’s military call-up announcement caused a surge in arrivals.

“Last weekend was the busiest weekend of the year for traffic on the eastern border,” Mert Sasioglu of the Finnish border guard told AFP.

The border agency said nearly 8,600 Russians entered Finland via the land border on Saturday, and nearly 4,200 crossed the other way.

Neighbouring Norway, which is not a member of the European Union but is in the Schengen area, also reported a slight increase in crossings from Russia at its Storskog border crossing in the far north.

On Sunday, 243 people entered Norway from Russia, of which 167 had Schengen visas, while 91 left for Russia, according to Norwegian police. The police also stressed that these figures are still lower than the number seen before Covid, but said they expect a possible further increase this week.

Earlier this year, there were media reports that Russians were using Storskog to try and circumnavigate a European-wide flight ban

And last week, A visa agreement for travel between Norway and Russia was suspended. The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) writes that the typical rules for applying for a visa to enter Norway will now apply to Russian citizens.

New visa rules mean that the documentation required to apply will be tightened, multiple-entry visas won’t be issued as part of one application, processing times will go up, and fees will also increase.  

READ MORE: Norway suspends visa agreement with Russia

Norwegian newspaper VG reports that this is among a string of measures the UDI has taken to tighten the rules for obtaining a visa as a Russian citizen. 

Norway’s immigration directorate told VG that tourist visas and those to visit friends would be rejected in most cases. Visa applications are being rejected as there are doubts over whether the applicant would return to Russia upon the visa’s expiration. 

Additionally, Russian citizens were moved to the orange visa group. 

“In the orange group, parents, children, and spouses will generally receive visas, while it is more natural to refuse applications for siblings, distant relatives and boyfriends. It will also be more difficult, but not impossible, to get a visa for business trips and visits with a cultural purpose,” Håvard Sætre from the UDI told the Norwegian newspaper VG

Russians are still able to apply for asylum in Norway. However, to apply, they will need to physically reach Norway first. In 2022, 219 Russian citizens have applied for asylum in Norway. 

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