Norway's election winner faces uphill coalition struggle
By Peter Harmsen, AFPOSLO--Norway's election winner Erna Solberg on Tuesday faced an uphill struggle to cobble together a workable alliance set to include the anti-immigration right.
September 11, 2013, 12:11 am TWN
The 52-year-old career politician, also known as “Iron Erna,” led her Conservative Party to victory in Monday's vote alongside three other center-right parties, putting an end to eight years of center-left rule.
“We have had a meeting today with the center-right party leaders and we have agreed to start exploring the possibilities for all parties to form a government,” Solberg told reporters.
Earlier, she said it was generally understood that the four parties would have to compromise to work together.
“Everybody must negotiate. Everybody must give and take,” she said.
A four-party center-right bloc won 96 seats in the 169-seat parliament, while the incumbent three-party center-left coalition ended up with 72 seats. An independent environmental party got one seat.
Jens Stoltenberg of the Labour Party, Norway's prime minister since 2005, met with Norway's King Harald early Tuesday to announce his government would resign in mid-October, after presenting the national budget for next year.
He later told a press conference he was preparing to spend the next four years in opposition, although he did not rule out a return to power before the next election in 2017.
“If (the center-right parties) don't manage to stay in power through the next four years, the Labour Party, being big, will be ready to assume a responsibility,” said Stoltenberg, 54.
Solberg's challenge is to forge a government with the support of four parties that span Norway's political spectrum from the moderate center to the populist, immigration-sceptic right.
“Erna Solberg has to reconcile the almost irreconcilable positions of very different parties,” the daily Verdens Gang said in an editorial.
The populist Progress Party may end up as a paradoxical beneficiary of the election despite losing 12 seats, ending up with 29, and dropping one spot to the third-largest party in parliament.
Its participation is considered essential if the Conservatives are to form a government, giving it the chance of taking part in a cabinet for the first time in its 40-year history.
“We are going to negotiate a platform for the government, and we have said throughout the campaign that we wanted to have a serious footprint on the platform,”