Norway's left-wing opposition wins climate-focused election in landslide, starts coalition talks

OSLO – The Norwegian Workers’ Party started coalition talks with other members of the center-left bloc on Tuesday to form a government with a focus on climate change and oil following their election victory in parliament.

Labor leader Jonas Gahr Stoere will seek to address voter concerns about global warming and a growing wealth gap, while ensuring that any transition away from oil production – and the jobs it creates – is gradual.

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Its aim is to convince both the rural centrists and the mostly urban socialist left to join him, which would give his cabinet 89 seats, four more than is required for a majority in the 169-seat assembly.

“There is more that connects us than divides us,” Stoere told reporters outside his home in Oslo on Tuesday after talking to other party leaders on the phone.

He must persuade them to compromise on policies ranging from oil and private property to the non-member Norway’s relations with the European Union

In particular, Stoere must persuade them to compromise on energy policy, including the ability to allow exploration while reducing emissions.

“The likely compromise has to do with limiting exploration, and the less explored and mature areas make exploration easier to stop,” said Baard Lahn, researcher at Oslo-based climate think tank CICERO.

“Also, the industry has signaled that it is less interested in these areas at the moment. That is a possible outcome, but what exactly that will look like, there are many possibilities.”

Norway produces around 4 million barrels of oil equivalent every day, which is over 40% of its export revenue.

However, most of the big parties also believe that oil will play a lesser role over time and hope that the oil companies’ technical expertise can be carried over to renewable energy, including offshore wind.

Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg said she would step down after eight years in power as soon as a new government is ready. A cabinet led by Stoere could take office in mid-October.

Monday’s outcome means Labor doesn’t need the Marxist Red Party or the anti-oil Greens to rule, which eases the pressure for big change.

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