Norwegians vote in polls too tight to call

Reuters
Norwegians began voting yesterday in a parliamentary election whose outcome is too close to call, with center-right government and the opposition bloc running neck and neck.
Reuters
AFP

Norway's Labor Party leader Jonas Gahr Stoere casts his vote to the Norwegian parliamentary election in Oslo, Norway, on September 10, 2017.

Norwegians began voting yesterday in a parliamentary election whose outcome is too close to call, with opinion polls showing Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s center-right government and the opposition center-left bloc running neck and neck.

Solberg’s Conservatives want to cut taxes if they win a fresh four-year mandate, while the center-left bloc led by Labor’s Jonas Gahr Stoere seeks tax hikes to pay for better public services.

The outcome could also impact Norway’s vital oil industry because to form a government either Solberg or Gahr Stoere is likely to depend on one or more parties that seek to impose limits on exploration in Arctic waters off Norway’s northern coast.

Polling stretches over two days, from 1100 GMT yesterday until 1900 GMT today.

For much of the year, Labor and its center-left allies were ahead in the polls and were favored to win a comfortable victory, but support for the government has risen as the economy has gradually recovered from a two-year slump.

Opinion polls in September on average have given Solberg’s four-party bloc 85 seats in the 169-member parliament, just enough for a majority, while Gahr Stoere and the center-left are expected to secure 84 seats.

The winner faces tricky post-election negotiations and will have to meet tough demands from small parties to keep their support over the next four years.

The independent Greens want to end all oil exploration, citing concerns over climate change and pollution, while other smaller parties also want to cap the award of new exploration areas in Arctic waters.

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