Norway’s Opposition Bloc Holds Lead as Labor Gains in Polls

Norway’s Conservative-led opposition bloc held on to a lead before next month’s election as Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s Labor Party continued a comeback in the opinion polls.

The Conservative-led four-party bloc, which includes the anti-immigration Progress Party, would get 54.2 percent of the votes, versus 38.9 percent for the Labor-led three-party government, according to the average of three polls published today. The Green Party also looks poised to gain seats in parliament, with average support of 4.8 percent in the surveys.

While Labor will probably remain as the largest party in parliament after the Sept. 9 vote, it looks impossible for the group to hold on to power, said Johannes Bergh, an election researcher at the Institute for Social Research in Oslo.

“All four of the center-right parties want a change in government and want to cooperate with the Conservatives,” he said today by telephone.

The opposition, which also includes the smaller Liberal Party and Christian Democrats, so far hasn’t agreed on how it would govern should it gain the most votes. The smaller parties have said they wouldn’t sit in a government with the Progress Party. The group is an outlier in Norwegian politics in part because of its anti-immigration stance.

Labor Rises

In-fighting among the opposition has spurred uncertainty with the Progress Party’s proposal to spend more of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund causing the most friction, Bergh said.

Labor saw support rise to 29.1 percent, while the Conservatives slid to 29.2 percent, according to a poll average. The Progress Party, the second biggest in parliament, got 14.1 percent, based on polls from Sentio Research Norge AS and Respons that were published in newspapers Dagens Naeringsliv and Aftenposten, and InFact for VG.

For now, with Labor and the Conservatives in the lead, the possibility of major fiscal changes looks limited, according to Katrine Boye, senior economist for Nordea Bank AB.

“The Conservatives are a responsible party, we don’t expect them to act in a different way to Labor” when it comes to fiscal policy, she said by phone.

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