A parliamentary election was held in Norway on 8 and 9 September 2013. The centre-right coalition obtained 96 seats, while the incumbent red–green coalition government obtained 72 seats and the Green Party obtained one. The Labour Party won the largest share (30.8%) of the votes cast, with the Conservatives coming second (26.8%), after increasing their share by 9.6 percentage points.
Elections in Norway are held on a Monday in September, usually the second or third Monday, as determined by the king-in-council (i.e. the government). In 2013 the election was held on the second Monday. Each municipality was permitted to open some or all of its polling stations on the day before the nationwide election day. This option was exercised by 206 of the 428 municipalities. The main period for early voting was 12 August to 6 September, it was also possible to make an even earlier vote after 1 July by contacting the municipal government.
The election was the fourth for incumbent Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg, whose party was previously defeated in the 2001 parliamentary election, but who won both the 2005 parliamentary election and the 2009 parliamentary election (though in the latter election, the opposition narrowly received more votes than the coalition) leading the red–green coalition. Had he been re-elected, Stoltenberg would have been the first prime minister in Norway to be elected for three consecutive terms.
The election ended with a victory for the four opposition right-of-center parties, which won a total of 96 seats out of 169 (85 needed for a majority). The biggest gain was by the Conservative Party, which took 26.8% of the vote, while the governing red–green coalition lost ground; following convention, Stoltenberg's government resigned and handed over power in October. The Labour Party, however, remained the largest party in parliament with 30.8% of the popular vote. The Progress Party also lost ground, but nevertheless became a participant in the new government.
Among the smaller parties, the centrist Liberal Party and Christian Democrats emerged holding the balance of power. Both had campaigned for a change in government. On 30 September the two parties announced that they would support a minority coalition of the Conservative and Progress parties, but they would not participate in the cabinet themselves. The two smaller members of the red–green coalition both lost ground. The Centre Party lost only one seat and maintained a sizable parliamentary delegation, while the Socialist Left Party only narrowly reached the election threshold of 4%. The Green Party, which had not declared support for either bloc, received its first ever member of parliament with a single seat from Oslo.
The number of members to be returned from each constituency varies between 4 and 19. To determine the apportionment of the 169 seats amongst the 19 counties, a two-tier formula is used, based on population and geographic size. Each inhabitant counts one point, while each square kilometer counts 1.8 points.
150 of the seats are regular district seats. These are awarded based on the election results in each county, and are unaffected by results in other counties. Nineteen of the seats (one for each county) are leveling seats which are given to parties that win fewer seats than their share of the national popular vote entitles them to. A party must win 4% of the popular vote in order to win compensation seats, but may still win district seats even if it fails to reach this threshold. The system for apportioning seats is biased in favour of rural areas since the area of the county is a factor, but the system of compensation seats reduces the effect this has on final party strength.
The total number of seats in the parliament remained unchanged at 169, but population changes meant that some counties gained or lost seats. Hedmark, Sogn og Fjordane, Nord-Trøndelag, Nordland and Troms all lost one seat each. Akershus, Hordaland and Rogaland gained one each, whilst Oslo gained two.
Going into the campaign, the governing red–green coalition were far behind in the polls. Several polls had also shown that a "blue-blue" coalition of the Conservative and Progress parties might gain a majority.
The Labour Party continued to criticize the non-socialist opposition for being unable to propose a coalition that was endorsed by all parties. The Conservative Party desired a four-party coalition of all the opposition parties. The Liberal Party and Christian Democrats wanted a coalition with the Conservatives, while the Progress Party declared that they would not support a government they were not participating in. The opposition parties criticized the sitting government for health care queues and not making more use of private providers, for failure to invest in infrastructure, and for high tax rates.
The Green Party had never been in parliament before, but performed strongly in several polls, some even showing them above the threshold which would give them a sizable delegation in parliament. The Greens did not declare support for either the red–green or non-socialist blocs, but the Conservative Party considered the Greens to be well on the left side of the political spectrum. As their showings in polling rose, they began to face criticism for highly radical proposals. Nonetheless, the environmentally oriented Liberal and Socialist Left parties expressed worry that the Greens could become a spoiler by taking votes from them.
The Conservative Party's image branding of its leader Erna Solberg tried to take a softer tone after she had been dubbed in the media as "Iron Erna" when she tightened immigration rules as local government minister about a decade ago. Instead, their election website had shown her with pictures of hearts and of her smiling. The party's campaign issues included for secure jobs, healthcare, education and better roads. It also campaigned for abolishing the inheritance tax, means-testing for welfare recipients, tax incentives for private savings, simplifying procurement rules to make it easier for smaller businesses to offer for government tenders and the deregulation of alcohol sales.
The 2011 Norway attacks were not a central issue of the campaign. All the main parties had strongly condemned both the attacks and the political ideology of the perpetrator. When Stoltenberg accused the Conservatives of poor leadership skills for failing to offer a united alternative to the red–green coalition, Solberg retorted by pointing out that the Gjørv Report had cited poor leadership prior to the attacks. The retort provoked a negative reaction and was described as legitimate but unwise by the political commentator Frank Aarebrot. 33 survivors of the attacks ran for parliament on a Labour ticket, with four being elected, but their status as survivors was not a campaign issue. The Progress Party focused less on this issue and more on healthcare and infrastructure.
In the run up to the election, various organizations conducted opinion polls to gauge voting intentions. Below is a month by month average of all opinion polls.
For the smaller parties, the election threshold of 4% became a threat. Several opinion polls showed the Socialist Left Party below the threshold, and on August 18 the party called a press conference declaring that the future of a political force left of Labour was at stake. In the lead-up to the election, opinion polls consistently predicted a victory for the Conservative-led coalition.
14 September 2009
The total number of seats in the parliament will remain 169, but due to changes in the population, some counties will gain or lose seats. Hedmark, Sogn og Fjordane, Nord-Trøndelag, Nordland and Troms all lose one seat each. Akershus, Hordaland and Rogaland gain one each, whilst Oslo gains two.
14 September 2009
|Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet)||874,769||30.8||−4.5||55||−9||32.5|
|Conservative Party (Høyre)||760,232||26.8||+9.6||48||+18||28.4|
|Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet)||463,560||16.3||−6.6||29||−12||17.2|
|Christian Democratic Party (Kristelig Folkeparti)||158,475||5.6||0.0||10||0||5.9|
|Centre Party (Senterpartiet)||155,357||5.5||−0.7||10||−1||5.9|
|Liberal Party (Venstre)||148,275||5.2||+1.4||9||+7||5.3|
|Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti)||116,021||4.1||−2.1||7||−4||4.1|
|Green Party (Miljøpartiet De Grønne)||79,152||2.8||+2.4||1||+1||0.6|
|Red Party (Rødt)||30,751||1.1||−0.3||0||0|
|The Christians (De Kristne)||17,731||0.6||+0.6||0||0|
|Pensioners' Party (Pensjonistpartiet)||11,865||0.4||0.0||0||0|
|Pirate Party (Piratpartiet)||9,869||0.3||+0.3||0||0|
|Coastal Party (Kystpartiet)||3,311||0.1||−0.1||0||0|
|Democrats in Norway (Demokratene i Norge)||2,214||0.1||+0.1||0||0|
|Christian Unity Party (Kristent Samlingsparti)||1,722||0.1||−0.1||0||0|
|Liberal People's Party (Det Liberale Folkepartiet)||909||0.0||0.0||0||0|
|Communist Party of Norway (Norges Kommunistiske Parti)||611||0.0||0.0||0||0|
|Hospital to Alta (Sykehus til Alta)||467||0.0||0.0||0||0|
|Society Party (Samfunnspartiet)||295||0.0||0.0||0||0|
|LoVeSe (Folkeliste mot oljeboring i Lofoten, Vesterålen og Senja)||268||0.0||0.0||0||0|
|People's Power (Folkemakten)||175||0.0||0.0||0||0|
(Conservative Party, Progress Party, Christian Democratic Party, Liberal Party)
(Labour Party, Centre Party, Socialist Left Party)
|Sogn og Fjordane ||1||1||1||1||4|
|Møre og Romsdal ||2||1||2||2||1||1||9|
Conservative Party leader Erna Solberg said: "The voters had the choice between 12 years of red/green government or a new government with new ideas and new solutions". Labour Party leader Jens Stoltenberg has conceded defeat, saying that the party tried "to do what almost no one has done, to win three elections in a row, but it turned out to be tough". Progress Party leader Siv Jensen said: "We will ensure a solid footprint in a new government and if we are going to have good solutions, all four parties must have a place, all must be visible". Christian Democrat leader Knut Arild Hareide said: "The centre will play a key role. We and Trine Skei Grande (Liberal Party leader) have got a key role for the next four years. We are ready to put a new government in place".
Several commentators noted in half-jest that all the parties had won something from the election. The four parties on the right gained a majority and were as such the victors, but also, for the defeated red–green coalition, there was a silver lining. The Labour Party's numbers in the polls rose during the campaign and they retained their status as the largest party. The Socialist Left Party had a historically bad election, but they succeeded at climbing over the election threshold and retained seven seats, as compared with a mere two seats had they fallen under. The Centre Party did better than expected, and emerged from eight years in government with about the same amount of support as before. Meanwhile, the Green Party could celebrate their first ever member of parliament.
University of Bergen politics professor Frank Aarebrot said of the election campaign that it was dominated by classical welfare issues such as better care for the elderly, improved hospitals and better schools. At the same time he pointed out that no party called for Norwegians to pay privately for such things as hospital visits, college education or elderly care.
The Conservative Party was said to be looking for coalition talks with the Progress Party, Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats. Solberg said that while staying committed to cutting taxes, reducing the size of government and improving health care, she acknowledged a need to make policy concessions. "We will all have to give and take to get a policy stance that has a firm direction and will last over time. All three (other parties) will be tough negotiators in issues close to their hearts". Four-party talks involved the Conservatives, Progress Party (FrP), Christian Democrats (KrF) and Liberals. FrP demanded Siv Jensen become the new finance minister.
On September 30, the four parties on the right announced that they had reached an agreement for a minority cabinet consisting of the Conservative and Progress parties with confidence and supply from the Liberal and Christian Democratic parties.