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Oslo For Members

The key local election topics that Oslo residents need to know about

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
The key local election topics that Oslo residents need to know about
There are a number of key election policies in Oslo which will shape the futures of its residents. Pictured is Oslo City Hall.

Taxes, housing, schools, privatisation and environmental policy are among the key talking points when it comes to the local elections in Oslo. We've broken down the biggest topics that will affect Oslo residents.

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Local elections on September 11th offer a rare opportunity for foreigners in Norway to vote. Foreign nationals who have been registered as living in Norway for more than three years will be eligible to vote in the local elections.

A tight race is predicted in Oslo, although most polls point towards a change from a Labour-led city council to a Conservative one.

Even if you cannot vote, staying on top of the key policies and talking points of this year's local elections is vital, as the promises and pledges put forward today will shape your quality of life in the city in the coming years.

Transport, school admissions, privatisation of kindergartens and nursing homes, housing policy and the property tax are among the most talked about local issues in Oslo in the run-up to the election.

Property taxes

Oslo is one of three Labour-run cities in Norway pushing the government for a higher property tax. Property tax is levied against a home's value and is seen as an important way for local authorities to raise funds by those in favour.

READ MORE: Norway's three biggest cities back hike in property tax

Currently, national limits mean that municipalities in Norway cannot charge more than 0.4 percent of a property's value in property tax. Rates differ throughout the country as local authorities levy it.

In Oslo, those who own a home worth more than 5.8 million kroner pay property tax. The current Labour-led city council wants to restore the old property tax rate of 0.7 percent and is putting pressure on the government to do so.

The other parties in the city government in Oslo, the Green Party and the Socialist Left Party, also believe that the property tax is necessary to finance welfare services. The Christian Democratic Party, the Red Party and the Centre Party also support the property tax.

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Meanwhile, the Conservative Party, Progress Party and Venstre are among the mainstream parties against raising the property tax. Parties against the property tax argue that it unnecessarily increases residents' living costs and hits low earners' pockets just as much as those with high incomes.

Among the parties opposed to the property tax, the Progress Party wants to remove it entirely.

Housing regulations

In terms of housing, Oslo has a strict set of building regulations in place. For starters, there is typically a height limit in place for most areas of the city. Then, when it comes to residential properties, new apartments have a minimum size limit. On top of that, it takes projects a long time to be granted planning permission,

The Labour Party, Conservative Party, Progress Party, Green Party and Socialist Left Party are all in favour of relaxing regulations and allowing buildings to be built higher and closer together to ensure there is ample supply in the city.

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The Centre Party, the Christian Democratic Party, The Liberal Party and the Red Party are all opposed to building taller blocks of flats. They argue that such developments are extremely unpopular with residents and erase the identity of neighbourhoods.

Care and kindergartens

Oslo municipality doesn't allow private firms to establish new kindergartens and has taken over running nursing homes from commercial companies. The Labour Party, Centre Party, Green Party, Socialist Left Party and Red Party oppose privatising kindergartens and nursing homes. One of the main arguments is that private companies shouldn't profit from the care of others.

To varying degrees, those in favour of allowing private actors to operate in the care service argue that companies can offer cheaper and better services and allow people the freedom of choice in the care they receive.

A middle ground for most parties is the idea of non-profit organisations running care homes and kindergartens.

Schools

School admissions are another point of contention in this election. Parties disagree about whether the current upper secondary school admission system should remain. Students are typically admitted into upper secondary schools based on the grades they received in secondary school.

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However, some places are also filled by students at different grade levels.

The Conservative Party, Progress Party, Liberal Party and Christian Democratic Party are all in favour of this. The Labour Party, Centre Party, Green Party, Socialist Left Part and Red Party are against such a system. Generally, the argument against the admissions system is that it creates inequality.

Cycle lanes

A number of policies have been put in place to try and make Oslo a greener city that's less dependent on cars. A point of contention amongst the parties and residents is whether this is going too far.

The Conservative Party, Centre Party, Progress Party, and Christian Democratic Party believe that too many parking spaces are being removed to make room for cycling lanes.

The Labour Party, Green Party, Socialist Left Party, Liberal Party and Red Party disagree with this view.

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