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As it happened: Erna Solberg reelected as Norwegian prime minister

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As it happened: Erna Solberg reelected as Norwegian prime minister
Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix
16:50 CEST+02:00
Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg has won a mandate for a further four years in government after a tense election night victory over Labour leader Jonas Gahr Støre.
  • Erna Solberg wins projected 89-79 majority
  • Jonas Gahr Støre's Labour party suffer reduced vote share
  • Liberal Party makes it over threshold to secure conservative winner
  • Agrarian Centre Party makes big gains

01:15am: Closing live blog

We're closing our live blog now after an election that threatened to surpass its billing as a thriller and remained close throughout. Erna Solberg has held her majority, Labour and Jonas Gahr Støre have underperformed, the Progress Party has stabilised and the agrarian Centre Party are the night's biggest success story.

Will Erna Solberg look to change the composition of her government despite Knut Arild Hareide's reluctance? How does Jonas Gahr Støre's future as Labour leader look after losing the vote? These will be two of the questions likely to be discussed in the wake of this 2017 election.

Thank you for reading.

01:11am: Status: 94.8 percent of votes counted

Red Party – 2.4 percent, 1 seat
Socialist Left – 6 percent, 11 seats
Labour – 27.4 percent, 49 seats
Centre Party – 10.3 percent, 18 seats
Green Party – 3.2 percent, 1 seat
Christian Democrats – 4.2 percent, 8 seats
Liberal Party – 4.3 percent, 8 seats
Conservatives – 25.1 percent, 45 seats
Progress Party – 15.3 percent, 28 seats

Solberg/blue bloc 89 seats; Støre/red bloc 79 seats.

01:01am Hareide: We will not go into government with Progress Party

In a post-election debate held at the Stortinget parliament, Christian Democrat leader Knut Arild Hareide says his party will not go into government with the populist Progress Party. Hareide also confirms that he will not oppose Erna Solberg's government, apparently placing the Christian Democrats as a "confidence and supply" parliamentary ally of the government - the same role the party played in the 2013-17 term.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party has gained ground as the last votes were counted, and are now on 4.3 percent, giving them a slightly larger than the Christian Democrats on 4.2 percent -- but with both over the all-important 4 percent threshold.

00:19am "A thousand thanks for your efforts"

Erna Solberg concludes her speech in front of a roaring Conservative Party HQ and tells reporters that she "believes" the majority is secure as she leaves the conference hall at the SAS Hotel.

00:16am: Solberg says mandate for four more years comes from delivering on promises

“We campaigned on safe government, we have shown we deliver,” says Erna Solberg.

The PM thanks conservative party leaders Siv Jensen (Progress), Trine Skei Grande (Liberal) and Knut Arild Hareide (Christian Democrats) in her speech, and says that she has invited the three to a conversation about future collaboration between the parties.

00:09am: Response from voters appreciated: Solberg

00:05am: Solberg enters conference room at SAS Hotel to raucous cheering

"Four more years" shouts the crowd as the PM takes to the stage.

00:01am: Solberg to speak shortly

Prime Minister Erna Solberg -- who now looks close to being confirmed as the election winner -- is the last party leader to speak. She will give a speech at the SAS Hotel shortly.

00:00am: Labour leader Støre leaves Labour Party election camp at Folkets Hus

11:52pm: Jonas Gahr Støre speaks to supporters

"We hoped for a better result, there is no reason to try to hide it," says Støre, whose party has lost around seven percent of the vote.

Støre vows to fight on for campaign values, including increasing youth employment.

"Regardless of how it ends, we must all move on," he adds.

The Labour leader has conceded neither the election nor his party leadership.

11:49pm: Liberals helped in swing areas?

Could tactical voting in swing areas have helped the Liberal party over the crucial threshold?

11:46pm: "We are going to cross the threshold": Grande

"We must have ice in our veins, because it will come down to a few votes," says a confident Trine Skei Grande.

11:42pm: Liberal leader Grande giving speech

Liberal Party leader Trine Skei Grande, whose party's struggle to reach the four percent parliament threshold has kept the result in doubt, is now speaking before supporters.

11:41pm: "Conservative majority"

Aftenposten is now reporting a Conservative majority along with a near-collapse for Labour.

11:36pm: Liberals and Solberg hanging on

11:33pm: Status: 82 percent of votes counted

Red Party – 2.5 percent, 1 seat
Socialist Left – 6 percent, 11 seats
Labour – 27.5 percent, 50 seats
Centre Party – 10.3 percent, 18 seats
Green Party – 3.2 percent, 1 seat
Christian Democrats – 4.2 percent, 8 seats
Liberal Party – 4.2 percent, 7 seats
Conservatives – 25.3 percent, 45 seats
Progress Party – 15 percent, 28 seats

This gives an overall victory to Erna Solberg and the conservative bloc by 88 seats to 81. 

11:26pm: Slight reversal for Progress Party

The Progress Party is currently forecast to lose one seat overall, putting it on 28 seats.

11:14pm: Down to the wire?

Just under 78 percent of the votes have now been counted.

Erna Solberg’s conservative bloc retains a narrow lead with 87 seats compared to 82 on the left side of the aisle. But current projections have Solberg still reliant on both the Liberal and Christian Democrat parties meeting the threshold – and the former is hanging on by a thread.

11:06pm: Progress does well in rural areas

The populist Progress Party has done well in heartlands such as the Møre og Romsdal region, but, like both the Conservatives and Labour, has lost ground nationally.

11:03pm: Result is not certain

“Whatever the outcome, one thing is certain. It’s been a wonderful night for the Centre Party,” says leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum in his speech.

The Centre Party could gain as many as eight seats.

10:58pm: Threshold creates uncertainty

Aftenposten is reporting that the uncertainty regarding whether the Liberal party will reach the threshold could be the difference between a conservative majority and a dead heat, which could mean the one-seat Green Party holding the outcome in its hands.

The Greens have not committed themselves to supporting either bloc, but have said that they will not form any kind of alliance with the Progress Party.

10:44pm: "Not over yet”: Lysbakken

SV leader Audun Lysbakken believes that the result can still go either way.

“The majority can still fall on the right side in this election,” he said during his speech.

Lysbakken’s optimism carries some weight. The Liberal party is very close to the four percent threshold required for parties to qualify for increased parliamentary representation. Should the right-centre party not make the cut, the overall winner could be thrown back into the balance.

This is not quite done and dusted yet.

10:25pm: Party leaders giving speeches

Christian Democrat leader Knut Arild Hareide and the Socialist Left's Audun Lysbakken have already given speeches before their supporters. No official word from Støre or Solberg so far.

10:23pm: Result solidifying?

Some supporters of the red bloc have begun to resort to humour.

10:06pm: Not much drama at Stortinget

This is the scene Oslo's Stortinget parliament, where a big screen has been set up to broadcast election coverage. There does not appear to be much of a crowd, though.


Photo: Stortinget/Flickr

10:01pm: Who has had the best election?

It looks like being the agrarian Centre Party, the anti-EU, pro-decentralisation party that would support Støre as PM.

The party is currently forecast to gain 4.4 points on its 2013 vote share.

9:57pm: "The gap in favour of Solberg widens"

9:46pm: Status: 40 percent of votes counted

The Norwegian Directorate of Elections, which updates its prognosis as votes are counted, is now reporting the count as 40 percent complete.

At this stage, Erna Solberg has a clear majority with 89 seats to Jonas Gahr Støre’s 80.

Labour are projected to achieve 23 percent of the popular vote. This would represent a catastrophic outcome for the party, far below the 30 percent target it had set itself to topple Solberg. Labour achieved 30.8 percent in 2013 – and still lost.

The smaller parties to the left of centre have generally done well, according to the ongoing prognosis.

The Socialist Left, Centre and Green parties all look set to increase their overall representation.

But that seems unlikely to be enough to save Støre. 

9:35pm Progress Party celebrates

Aftenposten reports a jubilant Progress Party at its Ålesund base when the results were announced.

The populist party, a current coalition partner, looks to have gained at least three seats and taken 25 percent of the popular vote in that region.

“It the prognosis turns out to be true, this is completely exceptional – both for the municipality [where the seats are predicted gained, ed.] and for the party on a national level,” Progress Immigration Minister Sylvi Listhaug told the newspaper.

9:30pm: Green Party non-committal

“We must wait until all votes are counted,” the Green Party’s Lan Marie Berg tells NRK.

The environmental party has been touted as a potential kingmaker in the election, and has not committed to supporting either side.

9:26pm: Not good enough?

Norwegian media are reporting that the prognosis is "not good enough" for Jonas Gahr Støre and Labour.

9:19pm: Result far from certain

It should be noted that the initial prognosis is subject to change -- it has already been updated several times since 9:00, when the initial prediction was 88-81 in favour of Solberg. The sitting PM still has a narrow overall majority.

9:16pm: Solberg predicted to defeat Støre by 1 seat: prognosis

Current prognosis gives Erna Solberg's "blue bloc" 85 seats to 84 in support of a Jonas Gahr Støre-led government.

9:14pm: But conservative allies fall back

The strong showing from the two government parties is in contrast with poor showings by parliamentary allies the Liberal and Christian Democrat parties – both look in danger of falling below the four percent threshold required for party representation in Norway’s Stortinget parliament.

Even if these two parties are absent from parliament, the Conservative/Progress coalition may still be enough for an overall blue bloc victory.

9:12pm: Initial prognosis calls clear conservative majority

The Norwegian Directorate of Elections prognosis, released at 9pm, gives both coalition partners the Conservatives and Progress Party strong enough results to enable Erna Solberg to stay in place as prime minister.

9:01pm: Solberg to continue as PM: prognosis

8:52pm Støre, Solberg ready

The Labour leader is now also in place. Our next post will bring you the initial prognosis for the election result.


Photo: Vidar Ruud / NTB scanpix

8:45pm: Støre: "I have a good gut feeling”

Meanwhile, Solberg’s challenger Jonas Gahr Støre is now in place at Folkets Hus, where he will follow results as they are announced.

“I have a good gut feeling. I’ve had the same thing before, and it went well then,” Aftenposten reports Støre as saying as he crossed the Youngstorget square on his way to the congress centre.

Fifteen minutes until voting closes.

8:37 Prime Minister Solberg arrives at Oslo's SAS Hotel


Photo: Torstein Bøe / NTB scanpix

8:31pm: Election night sustenance

If you haven't yet prepared snacks to get you through the night, this could be the perfect solution.

8:20pm: "It will be an exciting evening": Solberg

Erna Solberg has arrived at the SAS hotel in Oslo, where her Conservative (Høyre) Party is gathering to await the announcement of results.

"I'm in good shape, I'm good at waiting, you know," the PM told media outside the hotel.

7:51pm: Just over an hour left to vote

"Now it's urgent!", writes the Norwegian Directorate of Elections on Twitter, while helpfully linking directions to voting stations.

7:39pm: Meanwhile, here are some useful links to get you up to speed with what is happening today and tonight.

7:35pm: Flashback to The Local’s coverage of the 2013 election

Here’s how we reported the parliamentary election four years ago, when Erna Solberg swept into power, seeing off incumbent Jens Stoltenberg, who had been PM since 2005.

How likely is a similar headline tonight?

7:28pm: Your carriage awaits

This is nice – and perhaps demonstrative of how important every vote is considered to be in the 2017 election. Students of the American College of Norway taking senior citizens to vote by rickshaw.

7:16pm: No voting under the influence

Shops do not generally sell alcohol on Norwegian election days – ostensibly to prevent citizens from casting their votes while inebriated (read into that what you will). There appear to be some exceptions this year, however.

7:10pm: How early will we have an idea of the result?

At 9pm, when voting closes, the embargo on Norwegian media publishing forecasts of the election result will be lifted. But how accurate are the early projections likely to be?

The prognosis that is made public at 9pm is based on the votes already counted prior to that time, writes NRK.

27.3 percent of votes were cast in advance of this year’s election day, according to the broadcaster. Most of these will have been counted by the time poll stations closed. Additionally some counting of the votes cast Monday will be completed in time for those to be included in the prognosis.

NRK estimates that the initial prognosis will be based on around one million votes – a large chunk of Norway’s 5.233 million population.

5:48pm: Record number of advance votes

A number of votes have already been counted. Advance votes were counted manually after Minister of Local Government and Modernisation Jan Tore Sanner decided last week not to make use of a digital counting system due to concerns over data security. A record number of people have taken up the option to vote in advance of polling day, reports broadcaster NRK.

5:37pm: Where did the prime ministerial candidates vote?

The leaders of all of Norway’s nine main parties were pictured casting their votes during Monday.

Labour leader Jonas Gahr Støre, who represents the one of the Oslo seats in parliament, voted at the polling station at Svendstuen school in the capital.

Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix

Bergen native Erna Solberg cast her vote in her home city, at the Apeltun school polling station.

Photo: Marit Hommedal / NTB scanpix 

5:21pm: Record numbers of observers

Turnout figures will not be available until later, but a record number of election observers have participated in today’s poll, reports news agency NTB.

A total of 158 Norwegian and foreign observers are monitoring proceedings in a number of regions.

“There have never been so many election observers present,” Minister of Local Government and Modernisation Jan Tore Sanner told NTB.

READ MORE: Foreign observers to monitor Norwegian election

5:00pm: Welcome to our live blog

Election day is finally here. Polling stations opened at 9:00 am and will close at 9:00 pm, when the first partial results will be released.

We're going to keep you covered as results come in here on this live blog, and we will be posting content on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Join the discussions in the comments sections and we may use your quotes in a story.

In the meantime, here are some useful links to get you up to speed with exactly what's happening on a day in which Norway will either continue with sitting PM Erna Solberg or choose a new direction under Labour leader Jonas Gahr Støre. Either way, it looks like it's going to be close.

READ MORE:

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