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

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. 

EXPLAINED: Who’s who in Norway's 2021 election race
Norwegian PM Erna Solberg. Photo by Stortinget/Flickr

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 rødt.no/Flickr

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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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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