Norway veers to the left: turning its back on oil?

Jonas Gahr Støre's social democrats have won Norway's parliamentary elections. After eight years of conservative government the centre-left is now taking over power in the country - as has already been the case throughout Scandinavia. But the coalition negotiations could prove difficult because the potential partners are far from united on the dominant issue of the election campaign - the future of state oil production.

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Göteborgs-Posten (SE) /

Strategically sidestepping weakness

One should never underestimate the Social Democrats, writes Göteborgs-Posten:

“Social Democrats are now in power all over Scandinavia (except in Iceland, which is, however, left-wing), despite the fact that the social democratic parties are far weaker than they were just a few decades ago. The social democrats have simply become adept at building strategic alliances with centre parties. And this in a party-political landscape characterised by fragmentation, with more and more parties and conflict dimensions throughout the Nordic region.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Social democrats in charge in Scandinavia

The parties of northern Europe are attracting voters with traditional social issues again, notes The Irish Times:

“The results of the Norwegian general election this week point to a clear political shift. ... The success of not just Labour but the Socialist Left and the far left suggests that bread and butter issues are still very much a currency in Norwegian politics. With Jonas Gahr Støre’s victory, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland will simultaneously have social democratic prime ministers, the first time this constellation has been in place since 2001.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Different takes on social democracy

Nordic social democracy is very diverse, observes the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“You can see this just by looking at the leaders and their political agendas. In Sweden and Finland you have Stefan Löfven and Sanna Marin, a typical industrial worker and a young woman from a rainbow family. ... Their lives have been shaped not least by the Nordic welfare state model, which aims to give everyone a chance. ... In a certain sense, this also applies to Denmark's Mette Frederiksen. ... But her policies, for example on immigration and the labour market, are quite far removed ideologically from those of Sweden. ... How Norway's social democrats under Jonas Gahr Støre will make their mark as a governing party remains to be seen.”

Keskisuomalainen (FI) /

Now for the unpleasant discussions

The new government will have to deal with the future of oil production, Keskisuomalainen points out:

“Climate and environmental issues were the biggest topic during the Norwegian election campaign. Norway has a good reputation as a pioneer in global responsibility and climate policy and has the most e-cars per capita. The pension fund that manages Norway's oil wealth no longer invests in coal, but oil is also the focus of global climate reports. ... The Norwegian Greens have made the end of oil production by 2035 a coalition condition, but not all major Norwegian parties, right, left, or centre, are ready for a phase-out. ... However, the Greens' demand puts them in an embarrassing position because all the parties represented in parliament back the Paris Climate Accords.”

Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (PL) /

Greens' call for drilling ban too radical

There will likely be a compromise over oil and gas, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna explains:

“The potential coalition partners must align their positions on the future of energy production. ... The Socialist Left Party is vehemently demanding a ban on new oil and gas explorations. The Centre Party is in favour of new drilling, while the Social Democrats want to meet environmental requirements but also fear job losses in the extraction industry. Because of the dispute over new drilling activities, it is unlikely that the Green Party, which is demanding a complete halt to oil and gas exploration by 2035, will enter government.”