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What you need to know about Norway’s upcoming election

Here's everything you need to know about how elections in Norway work, when the big day is, what may happen, and which key players to keep an eye on.

What you need to know about Norway's upcoming election
Here's our guide to the upcoming election. Photo by Arnaud Jaegers on Unsplash

When is the election in Norway? 

The 2021 election will be held on the 13th of September, and voters will elect Norway’s 169 parliamentary representatives. 

The nine political parties will also begin ramping up their election campaigns over the next few weeks as the election draws closer and fellesferie, Norway’s collective holiday period, comes to an end.

Who can vote in Norway? 

Unfortunately, for anyone hoping to hit the ballot box in September and have their say on who Norway’s next government should be, voting is restricted to Norwegian citizens. This does include dual citizens, however. 

On the bright side, for those looking to partake in democracy in Norway, permanent residents who have lived in the country consecutively for the past three years can participate in local elections. 

To vote in Norway you will also need to have turned 18 years old by the day of the election.

READ ALSO: Five advantages of getting Norwegian citizenship 

How do elections work in Norway? 

Norway’s parliament, Stortingnet, is comprised of 169 members. A majority in parliament is needed to form a government. All members are elected for a fixed four-year term, and there are no by-elections. There are also no provisions in place to hold snap elections in Norway.

The Norwegian Parliament is comprised of multi-seat constituencies, and candidates are elected to parliament using a form of proportional representation based on the Sainte-Laguë voting system. 

In practice, this means that parties are awarded seats based on the proportion of votes they receive, rather than a winner takes all system such as first-past-the-post used in the UK. 

The caveat to the Norwegian system is the sperregrensen, or levelling seats system. This rewards parties that do well nationwide but don’t win a massive proportion of seats outright.

The electoral system in Norway is also skewed in favour of rural constituencies to prevent MPs from urban areas dominating and constantly outvoting members representing the interests of communities in the countryside. 

Due to the number of main political parties in Norway and a proportional voting system being used, coalition governments are the norm in Norway. 

What are the main parties in Norway? 

In Norway, there are nine main political parties, each with its own focus issues and beliefs as well as its own ideological leaning.

Not all parties fall so easy on the scale on the left or right, as some have been in both left and right wing governments. But generally speaking, the Conservative Party (Høyre) and Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) can be seen as being on the right.

Labour (Arbeiderpartiet), the Socialist Left Party (Socialist Ventreparti), and the Red Party (Rødt) are on the left.

The Centre Party (Senterpartiet) and Liberal Party (Venstre) are more centrist. And the Christian Democrat’s (Kristelig Folkeparti) and Green’s (Miljøpartiet De Grønne) are more focused on individual issues and values, but some of their policies fall on either side of the political spectrum.

What will happen? 

One thing is for sure: There will be a coalition government in place come September. What’s less certain is who will be a part of the government. Most polls are predicting a red-green coalition, however. 

It’s worth noting that the term red-green coalition refers to the parties primary colours, rather than their political allegiances. 

In July, a poll from data collection firm Kantar DNS for TV2 showed that a red-green coalition would be the most probable outcome.

For the Conservatives to remain in power, the parties on the left will need to fall below the four percent threshold and their potential coalition partners will need to outperform the polls. 

Therefore, a government of Labour, the Centre Party and Socialist Left Party remains the likeliest outcome. This is because both Labour and the Centre Party have said they will not share power with the Green Party, even if it would increase their majority. 

Out of this coalition, either of the Labour or Centre parties leaders are the most likely candidates for Prime Minister. 

Who to keep an eye on? 

Any of Erna Solberg, Jonas Gahr Støre or Trygve Slagsvold Vedum could be Norway’s prime minister after the election. 

Solberg would be the PM of a centre-right coalition, and either Støre or Vedum, leaders of Labour and the Centre Party, would be the head of a red and green coalition. 

Out of the two potential candidates for a red-green coalition, Støre is perhaps the likeliest Prime Minister. Despite this, Vedum remains a dark horse as he is reasonably popular, and the Centre Party doing very well in recent local elections would give him a strong negotiating position. 

From the Progress Party, new leader Sylvi Listhaug is another person to keep tabs on. The party, typically hard on immigration, walked out of the current government over the repatriation of ISIS brides. Listhaug has been dubbed a rising star of right-wing politics in Norway, having already held ministerial roles in government before becoming the Progress Party leader in May. 

Given that both the Conservatives and the Progress Party will be depending on one another to form a government, the relationship between Listhaug and Solberg will be critical. 

From the Liberal Party, Abid Raja and party leader, Guri Melby, will be hoping to cling onto ministerial duties under a new government. The pair hold the culture and education posts. 

And from the Christian Democratic Party, Kjell Ingolf Ropstad, party leader and families minister and both aid minister Dag-Inge Ulstein and transport minister Knut Arild Hareide will be vying to keep their ministerial roles under a new government.

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Norwegian justice minister admits to having TikTok on work phone

Norway's 29-year-old justice minister has narrowly escaped a grilling by parliament after it emerged that she had downloaded the Chinese app TikTok onto her ministerial phone.

Norwegian justice minister admits to having TikTok on work phone

Emilie Enger Mehl, Minister for Justice and Public Security, finally admitted on Wednesday last week that she had installed the controversial video app, following more than a month of stalling on the issue. 

“Ever since questions were asked about this the first time, I have tried to answer both the parliament and the media as openly and honestly as I think is sensible about my TikTok use,” she told the broadcaster TV2.

“But now there is so much speculation, which I feel goes beyond what is warranted, I would like to clarify that I had TikTok on my non-secure work phone from the end of August until one of the first days of October.” 

Mehl has faced sharp criticism in recent days for the evasive answers she has given in parliament over her use of the app, which some security experts suspect may be used by the Chinese government for intelligence services. 

But the leader of the Norwegian parliament’s Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs committee, Peter Frølich, said he did not feel it was necessary to hold a formal hearing. 

“The control committee is spending time on big and serious matters now,” he said. “The Minister of Justice’s use of TikTok has been admitted and corrected, and that should be enough.” 

Several opposition politicians have criticised Mehl for failing to come clean earlier. 

“The mistake she has made is trying to mislead the Storting,” Erna Solberg, leader of the Conservative Party, told NRK last week.

Audun Jøsang, Professor of cyber security at the University of Oslo, said that it was “absolutely problematic” that Mehl had had the app on her phone. 

“Many people use the same device for private and work life, but people in important positions really do need to differentiate between them,” he told VG. “We may not suspect Facebook of spying on Norwegian citizens for strategic reasons. But it is plausible that a Chinese player like TikTok does it, because Chinese businesses have a duty to assist the state.”