Commentary, 9/10 2009

Published Oct 13, 2009
[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Edit page New page Hide edit links

SOGM 9/10 2009

More of the Same (Only Different)?

Norway held its latest parliamentary election last month, following one of the country’s more dynamic campaign seasons. The result is that the three-party coalition that was elected into power four years ago has retained its power. That was the result – but what will be the outcome?

Echoing US President Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” slogan, supporters of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg took to wearing “Jens We Can” t-shirts during the campaign. To say that the incumbent coalition followed the Obama lead in demanding “Change” would be taking things a bit too far. But – once the votes were counted – it became obvious that the result of September 14’s vote would mean a new dynamic within the “Red-Green” coalition.

Looking back four years to 2005, the incumbent coalition was swept into power with a combined majority of 87 seats (just about 51.5%) of the 169-seat Norwegian Parliament (Storting). The 2005 results were that Stoltenberg’s Norwegian Labour Party (Det norske Arbeiderparti – AP) came away with 61 seats, the Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti – SV) took 15 seats and Centre Party (Senterpartiet: SP) seated 11 representatives.

The overall election 2009 election result was not significantly different from 2005. Although this year’s vote saw the coalition drop one seat, it maintains its majority with 86 seats, or almost 51%.

The significant difference is how the coalition parties faired at the polls: SP retained its 11 seats this time around, SV lost 4 seats and AP gained three seats. AP’s new seats, without a doubt, will give the party an even stronger voice within the coalition. Although still among the winners, SV has suffered its second election in a row with declining numbers, putting it on par with SP. But what may be most significant is that AP’s gain will mean that both of the junior coalition partners will need to compromise as the government re-creates itself.

Where this will ultimately lead is far from determined. As we go to press, the parties are in negotiations concerning how the cabinet will be put together. Another sign of the significance of this vote’s outcome is that the result of these talks won’t be made public until mid October, along with the new national budget – taking much more time than Norwegians have come to expect.

It’s also too early to say what the outcome of this election means for the oil and gas industry.

Looking back to the Red-Green coalition’s first four years, when considering oil and gas, the government has stressed doing more in the already mature areas of the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Toward this end, the Awards in Predefined Areas licensing rounds have garnered the most support from the government, while licensing in new areas has seen diminishing emphasis.

Among the coalition partners, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s Labour Party has held the most sensible view of the oil and gas industry, emphasising responsible exploration and development. As the Petroleum and Energy Ministry itself stressed last May, Norwegian petroleum activity – both domestic and abroad – creates considerable value for Norway, not least of which is jobs for 140,000.

As representative for many of the these 140,000, the chief executive of the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF), Per Terje Vold is outspoken when it comes to the government’s industry policies.

Vold asserts that the results of the September election indicate that the more extreme voices of the incumbent coalition failed to win support for rejecting petroleum activity off the Lofoten and Vesterålen islands. By his organisation’s estimation, the progress made by some more conservative parties is a clear indication that voters support opening additional areas of the NCS in northern Norway.

It’s difficult to speculate on how the new cabinet will appear once the coalition emerges from its negotiations, but there is a feeling that although “change” was not the theme of this election, there will be changes. Only time will tell how the oil and gas industry will fare in this new dynamic.

Bookmark and Share

Do you have any comments to this articel, please let us now:

Do you have any comments to this articel, please let us know:

Please be civil.

(Use Markdown for formatting.)

This question helps prevent spam:





Mobile News
Mobile news

Our news on
your website


Do you have any
tips to us


sitemap xml