EXPLAINED: Who’s who in Norway's 2021 election race

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: Who’s who in Norway's 2021 election race
Norwegian PM Erna Solberg. Photo by Stortinget/Flickr

With nine parties, it can be a head-dizzying prospect trying to keep track of who’s who and tell your SV’s from your SP’s. Here’s The Local’s beginners guide to the leaders of each of Norway’s political parties before the country hits the polls on September 13th. 


Election season in Norway is well underway with less than a week to go until the big day. If you want to catch up on our election coverage, whether its an in-depth analysis of who might come out on top, or a jargon-busting vocab guide, you can do so here

Without any further delays here's everything you need to know about the leaders of Norway's political parties. 

Erna Solberg

Party: Conservative Party (H – Høyre

Age: 60

Current role: Prime Minister of Norway since 2013 and Conservative Party leader since 2004

Current PM Erna Solberg is facing an uphill battle to remain in power. Photo by Miljøstiftelsen ZEROFollow/ Flickr

Background: Hailing from the southwestern city of Bergen, Prime Minister Erna Solberg has been in politics since serving as a deputy member on her hometown’s city council in the late 1970s. She has a degree in Political Science from the University of Bergen, and has been an MP since 1989. Solberg has two children with husband Sindre Finnes, a businessman and former Conservative Party politician.

Party background: The Conservatives have been in power since 2013 in both majority and minority governments. The Conservatives are a traditional economic liberal party, with policies aligned with lower taxes and small government more in focus than social or religious conservatism. The party currently have an outside chance of remaining in government, and current polls expect them to get just over 20 percent of the vote

Number of seats: 45

Projected number of seats: 37 


READ ALSO: What Erna Solberg’s seven election promises mean for foreign residents in Norway

Jonas Gahr Støre

Party: Labour Party (AP – Arbeiderpartiet

Age: 61 

Current role: Labour Party Leader since 2014 

Labour leader Jonas Gahr Støre will be hoping to be Norway's next PM. Photo by Arbeiderpartiet/Flickr

Background: Having served as both foreign minister and health minister under Jens Stoltenberg’s government, Støre took over as Labour leader when Stoltenberg left to take over as NATO general secretary. Born in Oslo, Støre, who studied at the London School of Economics and Paris-Sorbonne University, is a fluent French speaker. He is married to sociologist Marit Slagsvold, with whom he has three children. Despite Labour being on course to deliver their worst election results since 1924, Støre is expected to take over as Norway’s next PM. 

Party background: The party are on course to secure around 23 percent of the vote and will likely form either a majority or minority government with the Centre Party and the Socialist Left Party. A social democrat party in the classical Scandinavian mould, Labour has spent a large majority of the post-war years in government. 

Number of seats: 49 

Projected seats: 43 


READ MORE: What the Labour Party’s election promises mean for foreign residents in Norway

Trygve Slagsvold Vedum

Party: Centre Party (SP – Senterpartiet)

Age: 42 

Current role: Leader of the Centre Party since 2014 

Centre Party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum. Photo by Senterpartiet (Sp)/Flickr.

Background: Trygve Slagsvold Vedum has been the party’s leader since 2014 and could be considered a parliamentary veteran at this point, having been an MP since 2005 and having already held the position of Minister Of Agriculture previously. He is said to be a keen dancer, but will he be busting moves come September 13th? 

Party background: The party had set its sights on securing a parliamentary majority with just Labour for this election, but this dream appears to be dead and buried now. Instead, they will hope to secure a majority or minority government with Labour and the Socialist Left Party. The Centre Party has its origins in the political movements started by farmers and fishers in the 1920s – its original name is Bondepartiet (The Farmers’ or Peasants’ Party). In its modern form, the party has an agrarian centrist outlook, supports private ownership and decentralisation and is against Norwegian EU membership.

Number of seats: 20 

Projected number of seats: 27


Norwegian election: What foreign residents should know about the Centre Party’s election promises

Sylvi Listhaug

Party:  Progress Party (FRP – Fremskrittspartiet)

Age: 43

Current role: Leader of the Progress Party since 2021

The Progress Party leader has been in charge since May. Photo by Pål Hivand / Sametinget/Flickr

Background: A former teacher from Ålesund, western Norway, Sylvi Listhaug, is relatively new to the post of leader of the Progress Party, having only taken over from Siv Jensen in May. She has already had several ministerial roles and has been dubbed a rising star of the Progress Party and right-wing politics in Norway, and has been an MP since 2017.

Party background: Founded in the 1970s, the Progress Party has increased its influence, like nationalist movements throughout much of Europe, during the 2000s and 2010s, and in 2013 formed part of a Norwegian government for the first time. The party is the furthest to the right out of all of Norway’s mainstream parties. The Progress Party left the government in 2020 in protest over the return of Isis brides to Norway but is still the third biggest party in the Norwegian parliament with 26 representatives.

Current seats: 26

Projected number of seats: 28

Audun Lysbakken

Party: Socialist Left Party (SV – Socialist Ventreparti)

Age: 43 

Current role: Leader of the Socialist Left Party since 2012

Lysbakken was embroiled in scandal the last time he held a ministerial post. Photo by SV Sosialistisk Venstreparti/Flickr

Background: Lysbakken, a former journalist, hails from Bergen, where he participated in left-wing anti-EU movements and was the leader of SV’s youth wing during the late 1990s. He entered parliament as the representative for Hordaland in 2001 and served as Minister for Equality under Stoltenberg, although he was forced to resign from that post over a public funds misuse scandal.

Party background: Originally made up of a coalition of smaller socialist parties and independent candidates, SV is now a mainstream democratic socialist party to the left of Labour but not as far left as the Red Party. 

Key issues for the Socialist Left Party are a robust public sector, a strong welfare state and environmental policy. However, they haven’t been involved in government since 2013. This looks set to change as they are expected to form a Labour-led coalition with the Centre Party.

Current seats: 11

Projected number of seats: 16 

Guri Melby 

Party: Liberal (V – Venstre)

Age: 40 

Current roles: Leader of the Liberal Party since 2020, Minister of Education since 2020

Melby currently has the education minister post. Photo by Oda Scheel/Venstre/Flickr

Background: A career politician from South Trøndelag, Melby has been involved in politics since 1999 and has represented Oslo since 2017. She took over as leader of the Liberal Party after beating out culture minister Abid Raja to the top job in August 2020. 

Party background: Centrist, socially liberal Venstre is Norway’s oldest party, having been founded in 1884. Its core values include supporting small businesses, education, the welfare state, and sometimes law and order. The party is probably the most pro-immigration and pro-EU out of Norway’s main parties. However, despite the pro-EU stance, the party doesn’t advocate full membership of the EU, instead of greater European cooperation. 

The party has either been officially in government or not in government but supportive of Solberg’s centre-right coalition since 2013. 

Current Seats: 8 

Projected number of seats: 8 

Kjell Ingolf Ropstad 

Party: Christian Democratic Party (KrF – Kristelig Folkeparti)

Age: 36 

Current roles: Leader of the Christian Democratic Party since 2019, Minister for Families since 2019

Ropstad is currently caught up in a housing scandal. Photo by Natur og Ungdom/ Flickr

Background: Leader Kjell Ingolf Ropstad has been an MP since 2009 and party leader since 2019. He currently serves as the families minister. Recently he has been embroiled in a housing scandal after it was revealed that he had received free parliamentary housing from 2009 until 2020. 

Party Background: Essentially a socially conservative centre-right party, the Christian Democrats’ political platform is based on traditional Christian values. The party also sees aid to developing countries and environmental issues as key areas. The party has formally and informally supported PM Solberg’s government on and off since 2013. 

Current seats: 

Projected seats: 3

Une Bastholm


Party: Green Party (MDG – Miljøpartiet De Grønne)

Age: 35 

Current role: Leader of the Green Party since 2020 

Background: Une Bastholm leads the Greens and is the party’s only member of parliament. Before that, she was an entrepreneur and environmental activist. Bastholm hails from Trondheim and studied politics at Oslo University, the University of Potsdam and Aberystwyth University in Wales. 

Party background: Founded in 1988, the Greens define themselves as unattached to red-blue coalition politics, saying they view the “grey-green” split as more important. Though they only have one seat in parliament, the Greens have representation in a number of Norway’s municipal governments and potentially significantly influence the outcome of the general election. The party supports organic agriculture, innovation, sustainable industry and animal welfare.

Current number of seats: 1 

Projected seats: 

Bjørnar Moxnes 

Party: Red Party (R – Rødt)

Age: 40

Current role: Leader of the Red Party since 2012 

Moxnes is the Red Party's only ever MP. Photo by rø

Background: Moxnes has been the Red Party Leader for nine years and is the party’s only parliamentary representative. Moxnes studied sociology at the University of Oslo and is heavily opposed to capitalism and the European Union. 

Party Background: The Red Party is furthest to the left out of any of Norway’s parties. The Red Party advocates replacing capitalism with socialism. They have only had one candidate enter parliament, and that was in the 2017 general election.

Current seats: 1 

Projected number of seats: 9 


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