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POLITICS

What Erna Solberg’s seven election promises mean for foreign residents in Norway 

Norwegian PM Erna Solberg has made seven election pledges, but what will they mean for you if she stays on as prime minister? Here’s what you need to know. 

What Erna Solberg's seven election promises mean for foreign residents in Norway 
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has issued seven promises to voters. Photo: Olivier Hoslet/AFP

Conservative leader and current Prime Minister Erna Solberg has issued seven promises to voters as part of a four-year plan if she remains in government following Norway’s general election on September 13th. 

Among the promises are more private-sector jobs, shorter queues for healthcare and more affordable childcare. 

Below we’ll break down what they mean for you. If you’d like to look at the party’s election promises, you can do so here

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Norway’s upcoming election

Promise on schools

The first of the seven promises is aimed at education. Solberg has pledged that the Conservative Party will ensure that 5,000 more students complete high school. 

Just under 80 percent of students complete high school or equivalent apprenticeships, according to the latest numbers from Statistics Norway

For foreign residents with children nearing high school age, this will come as encouraging news. 

Norway is already one of the top ten most educated countries in the world, according to the World Population Review. So should your children wish to enter the international job market after studying in Norway, they should be in good stead. 

The drawback to this, presumably, would be more competition for university spots if they are thinking about higher education. In recent years Norway has seen record numbers of people applying to universities in Norway. More than 154,000 people applied to university in Norway this year, and Solberg’s promise will only see this increase if it comes to fruition. 

More private sector jobs 

Solberg has also pledged to increase the number of private sector jobs in Norway.

She has said she would work towards four out of five jobs in Norway being created by the private sector. 

Most foreign residents working in Norway are employed in the private sector, so job creation in this sphere will come as welcome news if Solberg can make good on the promise. 

One of the strategies the Conservatives will employ to ensure more jobs in the private sector are created is to scrap a wealth tax on working capital and launch an entrepreneurial package that aims to make starting a business in Norway easier. 

READ MORE: What you need to know about setting up as a freelancer in Norway

Shorter waiting times for healthcare

Solberg has said that the Conservatives will aim to reduce waiting times by around two weeks over the next four years. 

She also defended the privatisation of healthcare in Norway and said that the Conservatives would set the goal of offering 100,000 patients free choice of treatment by 2025. 

Norway’s healthcare systems will also become increasingly digitised as part of the crackdown on waiting times. This may make it harder for new residents to settle and access healthcare. In most cases, a Norwegian national identity number and or a level four security electronic ID that requires an identity number to log in will be required to sign in to digital public services such as healthcare. 

READ ALSO: Everything foreigners in Norway need to know about electronic IDs

Greater equality and social diversity

The Conservatives have also set several goals and proposed various strategies under this promise that could affect the lives of foreign residents. 

Firstly, they will ensure that more children are offered daycare spaces when they turn one and abolish the parental payment for families with three children in the same kindergarten. This is in addition to raising the child benefit by 8,200 kroner for children up to six. You can read about the child benefit here.

Secondly, they will aim to ensure that three out of four refugees will be in work or education one year after completing the introduction programme. 

They will also try to improve the standard of Norwegian language teaching by introducing testing and assessments for providers. 

On the topic of language, they will also raise the competence requirement for Norwegian in citizenship applications. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Norway’s citizenship test

For potential homeowners, Solberg will also look to expand the rent to own scheme. 

READ MORE: Is it better to buy or rent property in Norway 

The Conservatives will try and simplify the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration’s (NAV) services for job seekers.

Climate promise

In its four-year plan, the Conservatives describe climate change as the biggest problem the world faces. 

By 2025, Solberg wants all new cars and vans sold in Norway to be emission-free and have said that the CO2 tax will be stepped up to 2,000 kroner per tonne in 2030. 

This means anyone planning on buying a car should bear this in mind when thinking about their purchase. 

Furthermore, Solberg has said that if she stays on as PM, the Conservatives would also create more jobs in the green sector. 

Freedom to live where you want

This doesn’t apply to immigration, which the Conservatives have pledged to take a measured and controlled approach to. This instead applies to having the infrastructure available to live and work in Norway, whether you choose. 

The party has pledged to offer high-quality education in more rural areas and making sure all houses have access to both high-speed broadband and 5G coverage by 2025. 

The party didn’t make any specific pledges regarding the opportunity to work from home or how they will give those living in rural areas greater access to private-sector jobs.

Better policing and security

Norway will focus strongly on tackling online hate crime, trolling and abuse under another Solberg government and will work on improving policing in rural areas. 

They will aim to increase recruitment for the police in rural areas twice as much as in cities. 

Norwegian police will also aim to increase victim aftercare.  

What have critics said? 

Labour deputy leader Hadia Tajik has called the promises “anaemic”. 

“There are quite empty promises after eight years of Conservative politics. I think people see through this. We see the results after eight years in government,” Tajik told newspaper VG.

Centre Party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum has also hit out at the promises. 

“These are small ideas and centralising solutions,” he told VG. 

He also said that Solberg had failed to do enough to create private, green jobs. 

Labour leader and Solberg’s biggest rival in the election, Jonas Gahr Støre, has said the promises would only benefit the rich and privileged. 

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ENVIRONMENT

Norway to offer record number of Arctic oil and gas exploration licences

Norway on Tuesday said it plans to offer a record number of gas and oil exploration blocks in the Arctic, with environmental NGOs condemning an "aggressive" promotion of fossil fuels.

Norway to offer record number of Arctic oil and gas exploration licences

The Scandinavian nation — Europe’s primary natural gas supplier and a major oil producer — proposed 92 exploration blocks, including an unprecedented 78 in the Barents Sea in the far north. The other 14 are in the Norwegian Sea near the Arctic Circle.

“New discoveries remain necessary to continue to develop the Norwegian plateau” and are important for Europe, Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland said in a statement.

The announcement is part of the annual granting of oil licences in so-called “mature” zones that have already been widely explored. The centre-left government, lacking a parliamentary majority, reached an agreement with the Socialist Left party last year to forbid prospection in unexplored areas by 2025.

The government’s propositions sparked outrage among environmental organisations. Truls Gulowsen, head of the Norwegian branch of Friends of the Earth, condemned an “extremely aggressive” cycle of concessions presented as the United Nations and the International Energy Agency discourage further oil exploration to achieve climate goals.

The NGO said the proposal would violate the commitment not to explore virgin territory as some blocks were to be located far from existing infrastructure.

The right-wing opposition, a fervent defender of Norway’s oil sector, said the move was a “tactical game” by the government to give itself bargaining chips to use in future negotiations with the Socialist Left.

Oil industry body Offshore Norge welcomed the fact that “attractive areas” would be opened to prospection.

The proposals will go to a public consultation. Oil companies must submit their applications later this year and licences will be granted in January 2024.

The Barents Sea has long been seen as a productive area for the energy sector, but oil and gas extraction is so far only taking place at two sites in Norwegian waters.

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