Norway’s Election Heats Up as Poll Shows Labor Back as Biggest

The contest for Norway’s next premier is intensifying as Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg overtook his main rival in a poll three weeks before election.

The same poll showed that Erna Solberg’s Conservative-led four-party coalition, which includes the anti-immigration Progress Party, would get 97 seats in parliament, versus 70 for the Labor-led three-party government. A majority of 85 seats is needed to form a government.

Labor has strong grass-root efforts to mobilize voters and the gains aren’t unexpected, Knut Heidar, a political science professor at the University of Oslo, said by phone today. Still, voters are in the mood for a change and will almost certainly bring in a new government, he said.

“It will really demand a landslide of voters for Labor to change that before the election,” Heidar said.

Stoltenberg’s Labor Party saw support rise 1.6 percentage points to 30.2 percent, while the Conservative Party slipped 2.2 percentage points to 29.4 percent, according to a TNS Gallup poll for TV2 published yesterday. It’s the first poll showing Labor in the lead since June, according to TV2.

While Labor will continue to gain, support for the center-right parties that are part of the opposition bloc will help the Conservatives into government, Heidar said.

The Conservatives have pledged to lower taxes and boost spending on roads, railways, education and research and development. Stoltenberg has argued Norway needs to extend its welfare model, which is financed by the oil fund.

The Progress Party, the second-biggest in parliament, was backed by 15.1 percent in the same poll.

The poll was based on 1,496 phone interviews from Aug. 12 to Aug. 16 with a margin of error of 1.1 percentage points to 2.3 percentage points.