The Norwegian left-wing opposition led by Labor Party leader Jonas Gahr Store won Monday’s general election after a campaign dominated by questions about the future of the key oil industry in Western Europe’s largest producer.
The left toppled a center-right coalition led by conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg since 2013.
“We waited, we waited, and we’ve worked so hard, and now we can finally say it – we made it!” Store, in all likelihood the next prime minister, told his supporters after Solberg admitted defeat.
The five left-wing opposition parties were projected to win 100 of the 169 seats in parliament.
Even Labor was expected to win an absolute majority with their preferred allies, the Center Party and the Socialist Left, preliminary results showed with more than 95 percent of the votes counted.
That removed concerns about having to rely on the support of two other opposition parties, the Greens and the communist Red Party.
“Norway has sent a clear signal: the elections show that the Norwegian people want a more just society,” said the 61-year-old millionaire who campaigned against social inequalities.
The five countries of the Nordic region, a bastion of social democracy, will soon be ruled by left-wing governments.
“The job of the Conservative government is done for this time,” Solberg told his supporters.
“I want to congratulate Jonas Gahr Store, who now seems to have a clear majority for a change of government,” said Solberg, 60, who has led the country through multiple crises, including migration, falling prices for oil and Covid. pandemic in the last eight years.
The Greens had said they would only support a left-wing government if it promised an immediate end to oil exploration in Norway, an ultimatum Store had rejected.
Store, like the Conservatives, called for a gradual transition from the oil economy.
The August “Code Red for Humanity” report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) placed the issue at the top of the election campaign agenda and forced the country to reflect on the oil that has enriched it immensely.
The report encouraged those who want to get rid of oil, both on the left and, to a lesser extent, on the right.
The oil sector accounts for 14 percent of Norway’s gross domestic product, as well as 40 percent of its exports and 160,000 direct jobs.
In addition, the source of income has helped the country of 5.4 million people to accumulate the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, which today is worth about 12 trillion crowns (almost 1.2 trillion euros, 1.4 trillion of dollars).
Store, a former minister in the Jens Stoltenberg governments between 2005 and 2013, is expected to begin negotiations with the Center, which primarily defends the interests of its rural base, and the Socialist Left, which is a staunch defender of environmental issues.
The trio, who have already ruled together in Stoltenberg’s coalitions, often have divergent positions, particularly on the rate at which they are leaving the oil industry.
The centrists have also said that they would not form a coalition with the socialist left.