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ANALYSIS: What we've learned from the local elections in Norway

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
ANALYSIS: What we've learned from the local elections in Norway
Here's what we've learned after the local elections in Norway. File photo: Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store leaves after a joint press conference following a security meeting in Harpsund, Sweden, earlier this year. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)

The dust has settled after local elections in Norway on Monday, with a change of leadership expected in several cities and a historic set of results for the country's two biggest parties. We take a deeper dive into what the results mean for Norway.


Unpopular government sees Conservatives leapfrog Labour

A historic set of election results was recorded for the Labour Party and the Conservative Party. However, the results will have been met with polar opposite reactions by both parties.

For the first time in 99 years, the Conservative Party achieved the largest share of the vote in a set of elections, something the party hadn't achieved in either local or national elections since 1924. Once all the votes had been counted, the Conservatives received 25.9 percent of the votes nationwide – a gain of 5.8 percentage points compared to the last local elections in 2019.

The Labour Party only received 21.7 percent of the vote, a drop of 3.1 percentage points. The night's biggest losers were the Centre Party, who managed 8.2 percent of the vote. This was a drop of 6.2 percentage points compared to four years ago.

The drop in support for the government parties shows how they've struggled for popularity since taking power in 2021.

While the government hasn't had favourable conditions to deal with, contending with the war in Ukraine, soaring energy costs and high inflation, it hasn't helped itself either.

Several ministers have been embroiled in a series of high-profile conflict of interest cases in the weeks and months running up to the election. Two of the four ministers involved, former culture minister Anette Trettebergstuen and former higher education minister Ola Borten Moe, resigned as a result.

Change on the horizon for many cities

Several of Norway's biggest cities will see a change in leadership, with right-wing blocs set to lead several city councils.

The Conservative Party in Oslo will began talks with other parties on Tuesday after its mayoral candidate, Eirik Lae Solberg, declared an election victory.

In Bergen, current city council leader Rune Bakervik and his Labour-led government have stepped down. The Conservative Party would still have work to do to secure a majority. The party will need to sit at the negotiating table to garner support from other parties.

In Kristiansand, a Conservative-led bloc consisting of the Progress Party, Christian Democratic Party, the Liberal Party and Centre Party was set to take over.


A right-wing majority looked most likely Stavanger. The traditional Labour bastion of Lillestrøm, where the party has led local leadership for 100 years, could also see the Conservative Party take over.

Things were still neck and neck in Trondheim on Tuesday morning. Neither the Conservative, Knut Ranum, nor Labour, Emil Raaen, candidates had declared an election victory at the time of publication.

Labour was currently closest, with the party, the Socialist Left Party, Red Party, Green Party and Centre Party combining for a majority of 34 seats. Playing the role of kingmaker is the Centre Party, which had ruled out working with the Red Party.


Should the Centre Party instead choose to support a right-wing bloc, then the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, the Christian Democratic Party, the Pensioners Party, the Industry and Business Party and the Progress would be able to secure a majority if all decided to work together with the Centre party.

Transport project chaos could continue in Bergen

In the run-up to the election in Bergen, The Conservative Party candidate for city council leadership, Christine Meyer, said that the future of a controversial extension to Bergen's light rail service was settled.

However, she may need to perform a U-turn on that promise before taking the reigns.

On Tuesday morning, the right-wing bloc in Bergen was still three seats short of a majority. Some of the parties she may have to work with in Bergen are opposed to the extension of the Bybannen service.

The service is planned to run along the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bryggen, which many oppose. The future of the light rail project has been a source of contention for over a decade in the city on Norway's west coast.


In the spring, the project's future looked to have been settled after the council decided to press on with the project. However, several smaller parties have managed to gain seats with the pledge of halting the transport project.

Election results put PM under pressure

Norway's Prime Minister has come under pressure from several quarters due to the Labour Party's poor showing in the elections.

Former minister and deputy Labour leader Thorbjørn Bertsen has said that the PM should ditch the support of the Centre Party and shift more towards the left. The current government is already a minority one, which relies on the support of the Socialist Left Party to push through budgets and other key policies.

The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) has also put pressure on the PM by saying that the Labour Party must do better.

"There is no doubt that we are disappointed today. We must be better than this, and we must win elections in the future. This election has been an uphill battle from start to finish," the LO leader told Norwegian newswire NTB.


She added that the confederation also needed to mobilise more voters to support the Labour Party.

The party has plummeted in the polls during Støre's time as leader. In the 2015 local elections, the party received 33 percent of the total vote – significantly more than the 21.7 percent it received on Monday.

The PM has said the party's ambition is to regain its position as the country's largest party when measured by percentage of votes.

"I had hoped that we would come higher and that we would have retained our position as the country's largest party. And I would say that it is our ambition to come back as soon as we can. A few months ago, the Conservative Party was twice as big as the Labor Party. Now it's like 3-4 percent (difference). And that tells me that it is entirely possible to get back into that position," the PM said to Norwegian newswire NTB.


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