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Norway centrists seek to join Conservative-led government

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OSLO (Reuters) – Norway’s Christian Democratic Party, which holds the balance of power in parliament, will seek to join the centre-right minority government, it said on Friday, in a move that should help to cement Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s grip on power.

If negotiations succeed, the ruling coalition – which currently consists of the Conservatives, Liberals and the anti-immigration Progress Party – will become a majority government that is likely to stay until the parliamentary election in 2021.

The coalition had been severely weakened by disagreements over issues ranging from social policy to immigration.

Delegates at a congress of the small centrist party voted 98-90 in favour of negotiations with Solberg’s cabinet, rejecting a proposal from party leader Knut Arild Hareide to switch allegiance to Labour and form a centre-left government.

Hareide had said before the vote that he would step down if his proposal was rejected.

“I have to accept the result, but I am disappointed,” Hareide said, adding that he was proud of how the party had handled the process.

Surveys of delegates ahead of the party congress had shown that a majority favoured teaming up with Solberg.

The Christian Democrats won 4.2 percent of the vote in the 2017 election for parliament, down from a record 13.7 percent two decades earlier.

(Reporting by Oslo newsroom; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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