Friday, August 11, 2017

Introduction: Norway

The next election in Norway is expected on September 11th, 2017. One month from the date of this post.

As this is an introduction to post, I want to introduce the political scene in Norway. Since an election is upon us, I also want to discuss where things currently stand.

Since 2000, the three largest parties in Norway have been Labour, the Conservatives, and Progress.

Labour is a Social Democratic Party, that has won the plurality of seats in every election since 1927. A Labour member has been Prime Minister for all but 24 years since the end of WW2. Labour is expected to win the most seats in this election, as usual.

Labour can be thought of as a moderate left-wing nordic party, and the policies of Labour are often what people picture when they think of the policies of scandinavia. Of course, there is nuance beyond this; but this is an introduction post, intended to introduce Norway and the politics therein to people who may not know anything about Norway itself; and it is designed to be short and easy to digest.

The Conservatives currently provide the Prime Minister, Erna Solberg. She heads a 4 party coalition of moderate and right-wing parties. The Conservatives are a right-wing party, but very moderate compared to right-wing parties in places like Canada.

Socially the party is progressive, and it fits in well with other moderate conservative parties in Europe, and in Scandinavia in particular.

Progress, despite its name, is a nationalistic party, with a libertarian streak. The party is similar in some ways to the policies of Donald Trump. For many years, parties refused to work with Progress, but that changed in recent years due to a more moderate position on some issues.

Their main concern is immigration, and they wish to see the rates of immigration reduced. They are currently in the right of centre government coalition.

Poll suggest a 4th party has risen to join these parties as one of the larger parties in Norway.

The Centre Party is an Agrarian party, difficult to explain in the Canadian context, but in short, a party with strong rural support, but that is otherwise moderate. This would contrast with, in the Canadian context, "urban" right-wing figures such as current Toronto mayor John Tory, or former Calgary mayor Ralph Klein.

The Centre Party usually sits with Labour when in coalition, and much of its recent growth in the polls is due to weakness in Labour polling numbers.

Current polls show Labour with around 31.5% support, followed by the Conservatives around 23.5%, the Progressives around 13%, and the Centre Party around 10.5%

The five other parties that look set to win seats are all between 5% and 2% in the polls.

Socialist Left makes up the third party in the 'standard' or 'expected' Labour-Centre-Left coalition. While all 3 parties may not be in official coalition, in general, they can be expected to support one another so that even if outside the coalition, they will support the coalition on confidence matters. The party is hard left and socialist in nature, and is considered by most to be feminist.

The Christian Democrats often sit with the centre-right, and currently support the centre-right coalition government on confidence matters. They are socially conservative but otherwise moderate in policy.

The Liberal Party is a moderate centrist party with small l liberal values and ideas. They make up the 4th in what is usually considered the potential right of centre coalition, and like the Christian Democrats, support the current coalition on confidence matters.

The Green Party has so far avoided being lumped in to either left or right coalition. Their best result was in the last election in 2013 when they elected a single MP. Given the policies of the party, chances are if they were forced to choose, they'd back a left government over a right government.

The Red Party is currently seatless, and has never won a seat, but is polling at a level to potentially take a seat in the coming election. They are openly communist and propose a national income cap, charging 100% income tax above a certain level (roughly $250K Canadian a year)

Polls currently show the left-wing coalition of Labour, the Centre party, and the Socialist Left are in the lead, but only just. There may be the need of the Green member to join them to push them over the majority. Regardless, with a month to go, the Labour lead coalition should is ahead, but the current government is close behind, and Labour can take nothing for granted.

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