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NORWEGIAN ELECTION

What the election win for Norway’s left wing coalition could mean for foreign residents

Norway's Labour Party and the left-wing opposition won Monday's general election but what could the new government mean for foreign residents in Norway? Here's everything you need to know about the Labour Party's pre-election promises.

What the election win for Norway's left wing coalition could mean for foreign residents
Labour leader Jonas Gahr Støre could be Norway's next PM. Photo Arbeiderpartiet/ Bernt Sønvisen Flickr

Jonas Gahr Støre is expected to be Norway’s next Prime Minister.

His Labour Party has promised to increase the number of full-time jobs, raise taxes on the highest earners, cut emissions by 55 percent within ten years and among other things make it easier for first-time buyers to secure a mortgage. 

Below we break down some of Labour’s key pre-election pledges and what they might for you. If you want to read more on the Labour Party manifesto, you can do so here

More permanent full-time jobs 

The party has promised an overhaul to working life in Norway. Firstly they’ve pledged to increase the number of full-time permanent jobs and decrease the number of part-time ones to offer residents working multiple part-time gigs more security. 

They will do this by making employers prove that a part-time employee will be more suitable than a full-time one when creating jobs and vacancies. Currently, employees must prove why they are entitled to full-time employment.

In addition to this, the party has pledged to strengthen and improve working conditions through the Working Environment Act. Labour has also pledged to increase the strength of trade unions and double union dues’ tax deductibles. 

If you want to stay up to date with working life in Norway then keep an eye out for our new weekly roundup of the job market in Norway. 

Taxes 

The headline change is that the party has pledged lower income tax for everybody with an income of less than 750,000 kroner. People who earn above this will be taxed more. Overall, the Labour Party has said that eight out of ten would be paying less tax under them. For the majority of foreign residents, this means more of their earnings in their pockets.

Pensioners would also pay around 2,500 kroner less in tax a year. For people planning on retiring in Norway, this will come as a welcome boost. 

Labour has also pledged to keep corporation tax at 22 percent, not reintroduce inheritance tax in Norway and retain the controversial working capital or wealth tax.

Entrepreneurs, business owners and the self-employed

Labour has pledged to simplify the process for entrepreneurs setting up businesses and look into improving current schemes meant to benefit the self-employed and freelancers. Unfortunately, they aren’t offering in-depth detail on how they will do this outside of cleaning up various bureaucratic processes. 

However, I’m sure for many that have become accustomed to Norwegian bureaucracy, this will come as a relief, nonetheless. 

If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of setting up as a freelancer in Norway as a foreign resident, you can look at our guide here

First-time homeowners

People wanting to get on the property ladder in Norway are a demographic Labour are trying to appeal to with their policies. 

Firstly, they want to increase lending limits to help more people secure mortgages. The party have also said that municipalities must facilitate more construction for first-time buyers and student accommodation. 

If you want to know what current lending limits are, check out our guide to buying a property in Oslo here. 

They also want infrastructure and housing projects to become more closely linked and increase house construction around public transport hubs. 

Unfortunately, there are no solid figures available for how much lending limits will be increased. 

Climate

Labour plans to make Norway climate neutral by 2050 and cut emissions by 55 percent compared to levels in 1990. 

The party has also pledged to make sure that tolls, taxes and tariffs on fuel will be geographically differentiated to ensure that policies aimed at reducing emissions are socially and geographically fair. 

READ MORE: How will climate change impact Norway?

This will come as a boost to those living in rural Norway, where greener forms of getting around such as public transport and electric cars aren’t currently viable. 

A Labour government would also increase support and initiatives for green energy and implement tax reform to make it more attractive for businesses to be climate-friendly. 

Childcare 

Kindergartens and childcare were among the areas of life that Labour has promised to make more fair and affordable for families in Norway. 

Norway’s second oldest party have said it will reduce the price of daycare by more than 2,800 per year for one child and increase discounts for families with more children. 

EXPLAINED: Everything parents need to know about barnehage in Norway

They will also increase the number of staff in kindergartens required to have education and teaching qualifications to half and regulate the private kindergarten market to ensure that the quality of childcare is prioritised over profits. 

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NORWEGIAN ELECTION

Solberg unseated as Norway’s left-wing opposition comes out on top

Norway's left-wing opposition headed by Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Store won Monday's general election after a campaign dominated by questions about the future of the key oil industry in Western Europe's largest producer.

Solberg unseated as Norway's left-wing opposition comes out on top
Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Store and Erna Solberg. Photo: Flickr/ Arbeiderpartiet

The five opposition parties won 100 of the 169 seats in parliament, enough to unseat the centre-right coalition headed by Conservative Erna Solberg, according to results with 99.7 percent of all votes counted.

More than 42 percent of the electorate voted in advance.

Støre spoke to jubilant Labour supporters at the party’s election night event and said years of patience have paid off. 

“We have waited, we have hoped and worked so hard, and now we can finally say, we did it,” Støre said at the event. 

Labour were able to secure their pre-election dream majority consisting of themselves and the Socialist Left Party and Centre Party. 

“Today folks, we are celebrating a change,” he said of Labour’s return to government after eight years in opposition. 

Støre will be Norway’s 36th prime minister since 1873. 

The Labour Party and Støre, have secured an absolute majority of 89 seats in parliament with its preferred allies, the Centre Party and the Socialist Left Party.

If the three parties are able to form a coalition in the coming weeks it would eliminate the need to rely on the support of the two other opposition parties, the Greens and the communist Red Party.

‘The Conservative government’s work is finished’

Just after 11pm last night Prime Minister Erna Solberg conceded defeat.

“The Conservative government’s work is finished for this time around,” Solberg, who has governed since 2013, told supporters. “I want to congratulate Jonas Gahr Støre, who now seems to have a clear majority for a change of government.”

Solberg thanked her supporters and said she was proud of the government’s achievements as eight years of centre-right rule draws to a close.

“If we now look at Norway in the final phase of the coronavirus pandemic, employment is back where it was before the coronavirus,” the outgoing PM said. “We have also encountered major challenges on our watch. The migrant crisis, the fall in oil prices, the coronavirus pandemic,” she added.

‘Code red’

The Greens had said they would only support a left-wing government if it vowed an immediate end to oil exploration in Norway, Western Europe’s biggest oil producer.

Støre has rejected that ultimatum, not that it matters as Støre’s preferred coalition secured a majority and the Greens fell below the four percent election threshold.

A 61-year-old who campaigned against social inequality, Store has, like the Conservatives, called for a gradual transition away from the oil economy.

The August “code red for humanity” report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put the issue at the top of the agenda for the election campaign and forced the country to reflect on the oil that has made it immensely rich.

The report energised those who want to get rid of oil, both on the left and, to a lesser extent, the right.

The oil sector accounts for 14 percent of Norway’s gross domestic product, as well as 40 percent of its exports and 160,000 direct jobs.

In addition, the cash cow has helped the country of 5.4 million people amass the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, today worth close to 12 trillion kroner (almost 1.2 trillion euros, $1.4 trillion).

A former minister in the governments of Jens Stoltenberg between 2005 and 2013, Store is now expected to begin negotiations with the Centre, which primarily defends the interests of its rural base, and the Socialist Left Party, which is a strong advocate for environmental issues.

The trio, which already governed together in Stoltenberg’s coalitions, often have diverging positions, notably on the pace at which to exit the oil industry.

The Centrists have also said they would not form a coalition with the Socialist Left Party.

“I want a society that is more fair, with opportunities for all, and where we try to put everyone to work. That’s the number one priority,” Støre said Monday, also calling for a “fair climate policy”.

“We will take all the time we need to talk to the other parties,” he said just before the first projections were released.

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