Saturday, May 24, 2008

Norway turns to the right

A new public opinion poll indicates that fully 45.5% of Norwegian voters would cast ballots for either the right-wing Progress Party or the Conservatives. Together, they have far more support than the current left-center coalition government and are close to a majority in parliament. The results of the poll, conducted by research bureau Opinion for news group ANB, mark a major shift in traditional political persuasion in a country modelled as a social welfare state. And the results are bad news for the Labor Party, which currently heads the left-centere government. Newspaper Dagsavisen has reported that fully 27.7% of voters now support the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp), Norway's most right-leaning party represented in parliament. That's up 1.5% from the last poll. The poll results indicate that the Progress Party is thus Norway's largest, bigger than Labor, which garnered 25.3% of the vote, down 1.7 points. That's a relatively small amount of support for Labor and a real downturn for the party, given its history of dominance in Norwegian politics. The Conservative Party (Høyre), meanwhile, also gained voter support, up 1.4 points to 17.8%. That's quite a bit smaller than the Progress Party, but together, the two parties could rather easily form a non-socialist ("borgerlig") government with more than 45% of the vote. By contrast, the three parties forming the current government with Labor together commanded only 36.9% of the vote, ironically the exact same percentage that former Labor leader Thorbjørn Jagland once said was needed by Labor alone to rule. Labour had to leave power in 1997 when it "only" won 35% in national elections. The current poll shows just how far Labor has fallen since that time. Its government partner SV (the Socialist Left party) also saw support slip, to 5.9%, while the Center Party (sp) rose slightly, to 5.7% of the vote.

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