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Right-wing parties win Norway election

Current Labour Prime Minister concedes defeat to Conservative rivals in general election.

Last Modified: 09 Sep 2013 22:56
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Norway's Labour Party has conceded defeat in the nation's general election, as the Conservative Party and its right-wing allies swept to power after an eight-year hiatus.

Jens Stoltenberg, the incumbent Labour Party prime minister, conceded defeat late on Monday, while his challenger, Conservative leader Erna Solberg, hailed "a historic election win".

With three quarters of the votes counted, a bloc of four centre-right parties had won 96 of 169 seats in parliament. Stoltenberg's three-party coalition controlled 72, with one seat going to an independent environmental party.

"In accordance with Norwegian parliamentary tradition, I will seek the  resignation of my government after the presentation of the national budget on October 14, when it's clear that there is a parliamentary basis for a new government," said Stoltenberg.

Just minutes afterwards, the nation's likely next prime minister, 52-year-old Solberg, appeared in a triumphant mood in front of supporters in the Norwegian capital. 

"Today the voters have produced a historic election victory for the right-wing parties," she said.

The most often-cited scenario prior to the election has been for a minority government made up of the Conservatives and the Progress Party. As of late Monday it was unclear if the smaller Christian Democrats and the Liberals would seek to join the government or act as legislative support.

The Progress Party looked set to lose 12 seats in parliament, which would leave it with 29. But it still treated the result as victory, as it now faced the first chance in its 40-year history of being part of a government.

"We are going to negotiate a platform for the government, and we have said throughout the campaign that we wanted to leave a serious footprint on the platform," said Progress Party leader Siv Jensen.

Oil wealth key issue

Significantly, one of the top election issues was the proper use of Norway's oil fund, which at $750 billion is the world's largest sovereign wealth fund.

Given the general material wealth, and the lack of any serious discontent in society, the weak showing of 54-year-old Stoltenberg's coalition is mostly put down to power fatigue.

"Norway is one of the richest countries in the world, if not the richest, but the generation who made the nation what it is today is not getting to harvest the fruits," said Oslo retiree Espen Ek, who added he had voted "for change".

Stoltenberg's coalition was also criticised for the authorities' failure to prevent right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killing 77 people in bomb and gun attacks in July 2011.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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