Norway’s Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, has started coalition talks with his partners following his re-election.
The Labour leader’s centre-left coalition holds a slim but unassailable majority in parliament over the centre-right opposition. It is the first time a government in the oil-rich Scandinavian country has survived an election in 16 years with voters rewarding Stoltenberg for steering the nation through the global downturn while maintaining jobs. By contrast, the centre-right opposition is licking its wounds after voters rejected their overtures with promises of tax cuts, more privatisation and tighter controls on immigration. With 99.9 percent of votes counted, Stoltenberg’s Labour, the Socialist Left and the Centre Party jointly hold 86 of parliament’s 169 seats, one less than they won four years ago. With unemployment at only three per cent and the economy set to grow next year, the government was seen as a safe pair of hands. The campaign debated issues ranging from whether to tap new Arctic areas for oil and gas exploration as North Sea output falls, to how Norway should use its massive 300 billion euro offshore wealth fund. The centre-left has promised to return to strict spending curbs on the oil windfall once the crisis fades.