Norway’s left-wing opposition won the country’s general election, according to projections released at the close of polls on Monday at 9:00 p.m. CET.
The first results point to the end of the eight-year reign of the center-right government under Prime Minister Erna Solberg, following a campaign dominated by the future of the oil industry.
If the results are correct, she should be ousted by a left-wing coalition led by Jonas Gahr Støre, a millionaire ally of former prime minister and now NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg.
Projections suggest the five opposition parties are expected to win 104 of the 169 seats in the Storting, the Norwegian parliament, enough to oust Solberg’s conservative coalition.
With 88 seats at the moment, Støre’s Labor Party could even win an absolute majority along with its left and center Socialist Party allies, without needing the help of the Communists and the Greens.
Opinion polls ahead of the vote predicted the election would be a setback for the incumbent Conservative government.
As Norwegians went to the polls across the country, fears over climate change put the future of the oil and gas industry high on the campaign’s agenda.
Both the Solberg Tories and the Labor opposition are calling for a phasing out of fossil fuels which continue to support the economy.
Large parties rarely rule alone in Norway; small actors are usually required to form a majority coalition and they can have a disproportionate influence on the government’s agenda.
Some, like the Greens, are calling for a more radical break with the country’s dominant industry and income.
Støre – a 61-year-old millionaire who campaigned against social inequality – had rejected it, and a parliamentary majority would strengthen his position.
Even so, negotiations to form a coalition government are likely to be long and delicate.