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Norway’s Pro-Oil Labor Set to Oust Conservative Government

epa09466112 Norway's Labor leader Jonas Gahr Store is on his way to the Labor Party's election vigil in Oslo, Norway, 13 September 2021, during the 2021 parliamentary elections. EPA-EFE/Javad Parsa NORWAY OUT

(Bloomberg) --Norway’s opposition Labor Party is on course to oust the Conservative-led government after two consecutive terms in an election dominated by disputes over the Nordic economy’s dependence on fossil fuel.

By Stephen Treloar
Sep 13, 2021, 9:07 PM – Updated on Sep 13, 2021, 10:16 PM
Word Count: 340
A likely coalition led by Labor, headed by millionaire Jonas Gahr Store, is poised to win a majority in the 169-member parliament, according to projections from broadcasters and the Norwegian Directorate of Elections after voting ended in Oslo on Monday.

The vote is a key political test ahead of major climate talks set to start Oct. 31 in Glasgow, after a landmark United Nations-backed report urging drastic measures to end carbon emissions was thrust into the limelight of the election campaign in western Europe’s largest oil and gas producer.

“It looks like it’s heading towards a change in government,” Finance Minister Jan Tore Sanner said in an interview with TV2 shortly after results started to come in. “It’s usual in Norway that a government sits for four years and eight maximum, so we’ve been prepared that this would be demanding.”

Store, 61, campaigned to reverse tax cuts to finance more welfare for “ordinary” people and a “fair” climate policy. He admits the oil era will soon be over, but he’s against ending exploration. While his party’s showing was likely to be the weakest in two decades, it probably won’t need to seek support from fringe parties to put together a functioning coalition.

Labor’s potential partners are the agrarian Center Party and the Socialist Left. While the latter wants to put an end to new exploration licenses, Store has signalled a compromise that will see drilling focused around already developed areas that may ease the way to a coalition.

Premier Erna Solberg’s Conservatives stand to lose the most seats in parliament, based on projections, even after she was helped by record spending from the sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest. Norway’s economy has weathered the pandemic better than most wealthy peers, with Nordea Bank raising its 2021 growth forecast for mainland Norway to 3.9%, the fastest pace since 2007.

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