COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The center-left bloc in Norway appears to have won Monday’s general election, according to the first official projection, which shows the ruling Conservatives would lose power after a campaign dominated by climate change and the future of the country’s oil and gas exploration industry.
With a projection based on a preliminary count of nearly 52% of the vote, the Labor Party and its two allies — the Socialist Left and the euroskeptic Center Party — appear to have won power. The left-leaning side in the Norwegian parliament would get a total of 101 seats while the current government would get 67 of the Stortinget assembly’s 169 seats, according to the Norwegian election commission. A majority is at 85 seats.
As Norway’s largest party, Labor would try to form a coalition government. The Scandinavian country is not member of the European Union.
Labor has promised an industrial policy that will funnel support to new green industries, like wind power, “blue hydrogen” that uses natural gas to produce an alternative fuel, and carbon capture and storage, which seeks to bury carbon dioxide under the ocean.
“We will take our time to talk to the other parties, and we respect that this has not been decided until it is decided,” the head of the Labor Party, Jonas Gahr Stoere, told his party before the polling stations closed Monday.
Any post-election horse trading is likely to be fraught for the Labor Party and the 61-year-old Gahr Stoere. The Socialist Left won’t offer its support lightly and the Center Party is also demanding a more aggressive approach to shifting toward renewable energy.
The campaign focused on the North Sea oil and gas that has helped make Norway one of the world’s wealthiest countries. But fears about climate change have put the future of the industry in doubt. The country’s biggest industry is responsible for over 40% of exports and directly employs more than 5% of the workforce.
On the other hand, Norwegians are among the most climate-conscious consumers in the world, with most new car purchases now being electric.
Most of the country’s oil and gas still comes from mature areas in the North Sea, but most of the untapped reserves are in the Barents Sea, above the Arctic Circle. That is a red line for environmentalists, who could play a crucial role in securing a majority government.
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