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Climate could be key for Norway’s conservative parties

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Climate could be key for Norway’s conservative parties
Norwegian party leaders Siv Jensen, Erna Solberg, Trine Skei Grande and Knut Arild Hareide (back). Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix
15:33 CEST+02:00
Collaboration between Norway’s four conservative parties in the event of a majority in next week’s general election depends on several key issues.

The four parties – the Conservatives, Progress Party, Christian Democrats and Liberal – differ considerably on a number of key issues, including oil exploration and climate.

The ability to reach compromise on these issues could be decisive in determining the make-up of a conservative coalition government.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s Conservatives are the senior partner in the current two-way coalition with the nationalist Progress Party.

Although Solberg herself has expressed her enthusiasm for a four-way coalition in the event that the September 11th election results in her extending her term as PM, the two smaller conservative parties have both rejected the notion of working with the nationalist Progress Party in government.

Current polls have the conservative ‘blue bloc’ in Norway’s parliament as slight favourites to come out on top in the election, with the opposition Labour Party suffering worsening poll numbers as the election approaches.

READ ALSO: Election 2017: Who’s who in Norwegian politics?

The environmentally-conscious Christian Democrats have stated their opposition to continued oil exploration in Norwegian seas.

“We must say a clear ‘no’ to oil drilling in Lotofen, Vesterålen and Senja,” party leader Knut Arild Hareide told NRK.

The Christian Democrats are supported on the issue by the Liberal Party.

“We don’t usually go into negotiations with an ultimatum, but we do usually say that Lotofen and Vesterålen are top of the list of things we want to fix. That will be a big and important issue for us,” Liberal leader Trine Skei Grande said.

Both the Conservatives and Progress have said that they are open to looking into the consequences of oil exploration in the offshore areas, reports NRK.

Hareide has also publically disagreed with Progress Party immigration minister Sylvi Listhaug’s rhetoric on immigration, saying that it is building walls and causing distrust.

But climate remains one of the key areas in which it appears difficult for the four parties to find common ground.

The coalition was widely criticised for not mentioning climate when forming government four years ago, and eventually added a short text promising to reduce carbon emissions “in all areas of the government’s focus” to its mandate.

But the Liberals and Christian Democrats now both say that climate must be a primary area of focus should their parliamentary support be required for any new government.

“It is not enough to say that climate will affect everything, it must be a specified area of primary focus,” Hareide told NRK.

Grande also said that climate must be a “crystal clear main area of focus”.

“Climate is a precondition for everything we will do,” she said.

Progress leader Siv Jensen told NRK that her party’s stated priorities are lower taxes, care for the elderly, better roads and strict immigration control.

“Voters can rest assured that it will be the Progress programme that matters for us when we go into negotiations,” she said.

Solberg told the broadcaster that her party would continue to focus on jobs.

“We will have a clear prioritisation of policies that will contribute to more jobs and ensure welfare in the future… but I believe that finding solutions on climate is part of what will create jobs. It is not a contradiction,” she said.

READ MORE: All the news from the build-up to Norway's general election

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