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What you need to know about Norway’s upcoming election

Here's everything you need to know about how elections in Norway work, when the big day is, what may happen, and which key players to keep an eye on.

What you need to know about Norway's upcoming election
Here's our guide to the upcoming election. Photo by Arnaud Jaegers on Unsplash

When is the election in Norway? 

The 2021 election will be held on the 13th of September, and voters will elect Norway’s 169 parliamentary representatives. 

The nine political parties will also begin ramping up their election campaigns over the next few weeks as the election draws closer and fellesferie, Norway’s collective holiday period, comes to an end.

Who can vote in Norway? 

Unfortunately, for anyone hoping to hit the ballot box in September and have their say on who Norway’s next government should be, voting is restricted to Norwegian citizens. This does include dual citizens, however. 

On the bright side, for those looking to partake in democracy in Norway, permanent residents who have lived in the country consecutively for the past three years can participate in local elections. 

To vote in Norway you will also need to have turned 18 years old by the day of the election.

READ ALSO: Five advantages of getting Norwegian citizenship 

How do elections work in Norway? 

Norway’s parliament, Stortingnet, is comprised of 169 members. A majority in parliament is needed to form a government. All members are elected for a fixed four-year term, and there are no by-elections. There are also no provisions in place to hold snap elections in Norway.

The Norwegian Parliament is comprised of multi-seat constituencies, and candidates are elected to parliament using a form of proportional representation based on the Sainte-Laguë voting system. 

In practice, this means that parties are awarded seats based on the proportion of votes they receive, rather than a winner takes all system such as first-past-the-post used in the UK. 

The caveat to the Norwegian system is the sperregrensen, or levelling seats system. This rewards parties that do well nationwide but don’t win a massive proportion of seats outright.

The electoral system in Norway is also skewed in favour of rural constituencies to prevent MPs from urban areas dominating and constantly outvoting members representing the interests of communities in the countryside. 

Due to the number of main political parties in Norway and a proportional voting system being used, coalition governments are the norm in Norway. 

What are the main parties in Norway? 

In Norway, there are nine main political parties, each with its own focus issues and beliefs as well as its own ideological leaning.

Not all parties fall so easy on the scale on the left or right, as some have been in both left and right wing governments. But generally speaking, the Conservative Party (Høyre) and Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) can be seen as being on the right.

Labour (Arbeiderpartiet), the Socialist Left Party (Socialist Ventreparti), and the Red Party (Rødt) are on the left.

The Centre Party (Senterpartiet) and Liberal Party (Venstre) are more centrist. And the Christian Democrat’s (Kristelig Folkeparti) and Green’s (Miljøpartiet De Grønne) are more focused on individual issues and values, but some of their policies fall on either side of the political spectrum.

What will happen? 

One thing is for sure: There will be a coalition government in place come September. What’s less certain is who will be a part of the government. Most polls are predicting a red-green coalition, however. 

It’s worth noting that the term red-green coalition refers to the parties primary colours, rather than their political allegiances. 

In July, a poll from data collection firm Kantar DNS for TV2 showed that a red-green coalition would be the most probable outcome.

For the Conservatives to remain in power, the parties on the left will need to fall below the four percent threshold and their potential coalition partners will need to outperform the polls. 

Therefore, a government of Labour, the Centre Party and Socialist Left Party remains the likeliest outcome. This is because both Labour and the Centre Party have said they will not share power with the Green Party, even if it would increase their majority. 

Out of this coalition, either of the Labour or Centre parties leaders are the most likely candidates for Prime Minister. 

Who to keep an eye on? 

Any of Erna Solberg, Jonas Gahr Støre or Trygve Slagsvold Vedum could be Norway’s prime minister after the election. 

Solberg would be the PM of a centre-right coalition, and either Støre or Vedum, leaders of Labour and the Centre Party, would be the head of a red and green coalition. 

Out of the two potential candidates for a red-green coalition, Støre is perhaps the likeliest Prime Minister. Despite this, Vedum remains a dark horse as he is reasonably popular, and the Centre Party doing very well in recent local elections would give him a strong negotiating position. 

From the Progress Party, new leader Sylvi Listhaug is another person to keep tabs on. The party, typically hard on immigration, walked out of the current government over the repatriation of ISIS brides. Listhaug has been dubbed a rising star of right-wing politics in Norway, having already held ministerial roles in government before becoming the Progress Party leader in May. 

Given that both the Conservatives and the Progress Party will be depending on one another to form a government, the relationship between Listhaug and Solberg will be critical. 

From the Liberal Party, Abid Raja and party leader, Guri Melby, will be hoping to cling onto ministerial duties under a new government. The pair hold the culture and education posts. 

And from the Christian Democratic Party, Kjell Ingolf Ropstad, party leader and families minister and both aid minister Dag-Inge Ulstein and transport minister Knut Arild Hareide will be vying to keep their ministerial roles under a new government.

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ENERGY

Air-con, ties and lights: How Europe plans to save energy and get through winter without blackouts

In the face of possible energy shortages due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, countries around Europe are taking action to cut their energy use and ensure that the lights remain on this winter. Here's a look at some of the rules and recommendations that governments are introducing.

Air-con, ties and lights: How Europe plans to save energy and get through winter without blackouts

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ensuing sanctions has seen energy prices soar, while the Russian leader is also threatening to cut off gas supplies to the west in retaliation for the sanctions.

All this means that countries around Europe face a difficult winter and the prospect of energy shortages – so many are already taking action to stockpile gas and cut energy usage.

Here’s a roundup of what actions are being taken. 

Germany

Heavily dependant on Russian gas, Germany is already feeling the effects of the energy squeeze, with many households and businesses turning down the thermostat or dimming the lights as gas storage facilities are being filled at a slower pace.

RulesEarly in July, Germany’s lower house of parliament or Bundestag passed a plan to turn off the hot water in its offices and keep the air temperature no higher than 20C in the winter. This limit is merely recommended for households.

However homeowners will not be allowed to heat private pools with gas “this winter”, according to government plans, while a regulation requiring minimum temperatures in rented homes is expected to be suspended “so that tenants who want to save energy and turn down the heating are allowed to do so”.

As well as national rules, many German cities have also adopted their own energy-savings plans.

The Bavarian city of Augsburg, for example, has turned off its fountains, dimmed the facades of public buildings at night and is debating switching off some under-used traffic lights – and a housing cooperative in Dresden made national headlines when it announced it would limit hot water to certain times of day.

With certain exceptions, public buildings in Berlin will not have heating from April to the end of September each year, with room temperatures limited to a maximum of 20C for the rest of the year. In areas such as warehouses, technical rooms, corridors, the maximum will range from 10 to 15C.

Private enterprise has been getting in on the act too – Vonovia, Germany’s largest property group, plans to limit the temperature in its 350,000 homes to a maximum of 17C at night.

The head of consumer chemicals group Henkel has said that work-from-home practices may be reintroduced, while chemicals giant BASF has raised the possibility of putting its employees on furlough.

Recommendations – Economy Minister Robert Habeck has made headlines for extolling the virtues of shorter, colder showers.

France

France has an ambitious plan to cut its energy usage by 10 percent within two years and a government plan for sobriété énergétique (energy sobriety) is expected by September.

In the meantime, some rules have already been put in place while there are also some official recommendations. The general principle is that changes will be obligatory for government buildings and businesses, but voluntary for private households. 

Rules – In 2013, a law obliging businesses to switch off outside lights by 1am came into force. That deadline may be brought forward and towns and villages may have to switch off streetlights earlier – some areas have already taken this decision.

Shops that have air conditioning may not leave their doors open, so that less energy is lost.

Limits have been suggested for heating and air conditioning – keep heating to a maximum of 19C and air con to a minimum of 26C at the height of summer. The Prime Minister says she ‘expects’ government buildings to show an example and adhere to these, but they are voluntary for households.

Meanwhile, the heads of large supermarket chains in France have made a voluntary agreement for all stores to employ energy-saving techniques, such as turning off electric signs at closing times, reducing light usage, and managing store temperatures, from October 15th this year. They will also cut lighting by half before opening time, and by 30 percent during “critical consumption periods”.

Additionally, they will “cut off air renewal at night” and “lower the temperature in outlets to 17C this autumn and winter, if requested by a regulatory authority”.

Recommendations – The government has urged individuals to adopt energy-saving practices – by switching off wifi routers when on holiday, turning off lights, unplugging electric appliances when not in use, and lowering the air-con.

France’s energy transition minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher has urged people to keep heating to a maximum of 19C and air con to a minimum of 26C at the height of summer.

Spain

Spain has introduced perhaps the most wide-ranging set of rules in its new energy-saving bill, which comes into force on August 10th.

Public buildings as well as shops, restaurants, cafés, supermarkets, transport hubs and cultural spaces must:

  • Set heating and cooling temperatures to limits of 19C and 27C respectively;
  • Install doors that automatically close by September 30th to prevent energy waste, as can happen with regular doors that are left open;
  • Lights in shop windows must be turned off by 10pm;
  • Posters must be put up to explain the energy saving measures in every building or establishment, and thermometers must be displayed to show the temperature and humidity of the room.

READ ALSO: Is it realistic for Spain to set the air con limit at 27C during summer?

Recommendations – the above rules do not apply to private homes, but it is recommended to follow the heating and cooling limits.

Meanwhile, working from home is recommended for large companies and public administration buildings to help “save on the displacement and thermal consumption of buildings”, Spain’s Minister for Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera said.

And have you thought about your outfit? Here’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez explaining why he’s ditching his tie to stay a little bit cooler.

Italy

Back in April the Italian government approved limits on the use of air conditioning in public offices and schools from May 1st, to save energy and wean itself off reliance on Russian gas imports.

At the time Ministers said that Italy would be able to end its reliance on Russian gas within 18 months, after previously giving a timeframe of at least two years.

Rules – In public buildings, energy use will be measured in individual rooms of each building – the temperature must not exceed 19C in winter and cannot be any lower than 27C in summer, with a margin of tolerance of two degrees – meaning the lowest allowed temperature is actually 25C.

Fines for non-compliance with the rules are said to range from €500 to €3,000. The measure does not currently apply to clinics, hospitals and nursing homes.

Italy has long had rules in place limiting the usage of heating in homes and public buildings during winter. Northern and mountainous areas are allowed to switch on the heat in October, while some parts of the south can’t turn up the dial until December.

Even then, there are limits on how long you’re allowed to keep the central heating on each day, ranging from six hours in the warmest parts of the country to 14 hours in chillier regions.

And there are rules on maximum temperatures – private homes, offices and schools should not be heated to more than 20C, with a 2C tolerance. Meanwhile factories and workshops should generally be kept at 18C.

Austria

The Austrian government has said it will work on measures to encourage energy saving among households and businesses while putting a cap on electricity prices.

The aim is to “support the Austrian population to ensure unaffordable energy supply for a certain basic need”, according to a government statement. 

The government didn’t give details on the price cap but said that conditions would be developed by the end of August.

Sweden

Sweden has announced no new measures in response to the energy crisis, but already has certain limits in place. 

Many Swedish apartment buildings and housing cooperatives have a strict maximum heating limit of 21C indoors and in some buildings radiators have a limiter on them so they cannot be turned too high.

In Denmark, too, the government has introduced no specific new measures.

Switzerland

In common with other countries, Switzerland is at risk of a gas shortage this winter and the government has warned that restrictions on consumption during the coldest months cannot be excluded.

Nearly half of its annual supply is of Russian origin. “We are not an island, so the war in Ukraine and the global energy crisis also affect Switzerland,” Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said at the end of June. “In this context, there is no certainty about what awaits us.”

The possibility that Swiss households will have to turn down the thermostat this winter is very real. 

In the event of an actual shortage, “consumption restrictions may be ordered, for example restrictions on the heating of unoccupied buildings. The switching to biofuel could be imposed by ordinance”, Economy Minister Guy Parmelin has said.

If shortages persist, a quota system would be implemented – with households and essential services, such as hospitals, among the last to be affected.

But Parmelin insisted, “the role of the State is to guarantee a good supply of gas and electricity to the country. We want at all costs to avoid a disruption in supply, which would have a strong impact on businesses and  would then lead to an economic crisis”.

UK

Less reliant on Russian gas because of its own gas reserves, the UK is currently less worried about supply than price – soaring utility bills may force many households into poverty this winter, campaigners have warned.

Households in the UK will start receiving a discount worth a total £400 (€478) off their energy bills from October, the British government has said, with the support package rises to £1,200 (€1,430) for the poorest households.

A recent report by National Grid said there was little chance of the lights going out in the UK this winter – though experts have warned that a severe cold spell could prompt action, such as shutdowns of non-critical factory operations, to ensure homes can be heated.

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