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Norwegian election: Which parties could hit the ‘sperregrense’ jackpot? 

Norwegian election: Which parties could hit the 'sperregrense' jackpot? 
A statue outside of Norwegian Parliament. Photo by Arbeiderpartiet/Flickr.
What is 'sperregrense' and why could it have a massive impact on today's Norwegian election? Here's what you need to know.

What is Sperregrense

Sperregrense is a votes threshold that the smaller parties in Norway aspire to hit in every election. The threshold is in place because Norway uses a proportional voting system, meaning seats are awarded proportionally to votes. Thus, a limit was implemented to prevent too many small parties from entering government. 

Parties that surpass four percent of total votes nationwide are rewarded with access to levelling seats that ensure parties that do well across Norway but do not win a lot of seats outright are fairly represented in parliament. 

READ MORE: The essential Norwegian words you need to know to understand the election 

If you want to read more coverage on the 2021 Norwegian election from the The Local then you can catch up on everything here.

Why is the threshold important? 

To understand why the threshold is essential, we’ll cast a glance at the 2017 election. In the last election, the Green Party received 3.24 percent of all votes and received one seat. In comparison, the Christian Democratic Party received just one percent more of the total vote and received eight seats. 

The levelling seats system isn’t just crucial for the smaller parties; it can have a massive impact on the bigger parties and decide which parties may or may not end up in government or whether a prospective government will have a parliamentary majority. 

What do the polls say about this years election? 

Below we’ve included a chart that used TV2/Kantar’s most up to date election data, as well as projections for how many seats parties could win and how this compares to the last election. 

What does this mean? 

Overall, it means a considerably more diverse parliament could be on the books, and smaller parties winning more votes and seats from their larger counterparts could have a massive say in this years election. 

For example, if the Red Party and the Green Party manage to outperform the polls and take even more votes from the main parties, they could swing the balance of the whole election. 

Currently, it is expected that a coalition government of the Labour Party, Centre Party and Socialist Left Party will be formed. However, should the Red Party and Green Party manage to outperform expectations and steal more votes and secure more seats through the levelling system from the other parties on the left, then they could force themselves into government. 

This is because current polls are only projecting a Labour, Centre Party, and Socialist Left coalition to secure the slimmest of majorities, meaning that their dreams of majority government hang in the balance and may be dependent on a push from the other parties. 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Norway’s nine political parties before the election

As a result, the Labour Party, Centre Party and Socialist Left Party will hope the Green Party and the Red Party fall short of the threshold to secure a majority and avoid weeks of potentially messy negotiations. 

Labour leader Jonas Gahr Støre, will be hoping the Red and Green parties fall below the threshold to secure his dream coalition. Photo by Arbeiderpartiet/Flickr.

How could this affect the parties? 

Firstly, for the parties hovering around the threshold, reaching the threshold will make a massive difference to the power they will be able to wield in parliament.

For example, receiving just 0.9 percent more of the overall vote compared to the last election will bag the Green Party seven more seats. On the other hand, falling below the threshold could be equally catastrophic for others as the Christian Democratic Party stand to lose five seats in parliament if they fall short of the threshold.

Additionally, the performance of certain parties could signal a shift in the Norwegian political landscape and prove that voters interests are shifting towards issues like the environment. 

“I will cheer for any result as long as we are over the threshold. It is really exciting and confirms a trend,” Une Bastholm, leader of the Green Party, said to newspaper VG about the prospect of the green’s breaching the threshold. 

Une Bastholm, leader of the Green Party, is hoping the greens pass the crucial threshold this election. Photo by Miljøpartiet De Grønne/Flickr

Leader of the Red Party, Bjørnar Moxnes, is also relishing the prospect of passing the threshold, and says that this could have a massive impact on policy and is fully aware of the sway the party would hold should the mooted coalition of Labour, the Centre Party and Socialist Left Party fail to secure a majority. 

“The Red Party above the limit can be crucial to secure a majority and new policies,” Moxnes told VG. 

The Liberal Party reaching the threshold could dent Erna Solberg’s fading chances of clinging on as Prime Minister as the Liberals winning equalising seats will likely prevent more Conservative MPs from being elected. On the other hand, the Liberal’s winning more seats could offer Solberg a lifeline and coalition partner in the event she pulls of a unlikely victory. 

How likely are the Red and Green parties to reach the threshold? 

Nobody will know until election day as polls are never entirely accurate, and the Green Party, for example, is only just above the threshold. Furthermore, polls are just a snapshot of what the country is thinking and doesn’t always reflect what voters will do on the day. 

“The parties must mobilise voters on election day, something they have not been good at in the past. They were both above the threshold in 2017 and then fell below it on election day,” political analyst, Thore Gaard Olaussen from Respons Analyze, said about the Green Party and Red Party to VG.

This is something Red Party Leader Moxnes has also admitted he is apprehensive about. 

“I am worried that those who say that they will vote for us do not do so when it actually comes to election day,” Moxnes told VG. 


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