Norway locals 2011
Municipal and county elections were held in Norway on September 12, 2011. All 430 municipalities and 21 county councils in Norway were up for reelection. Each municipality’s local legislature is elected through proportional representation, and in most cases and in the largest cities the mayor is not elected directly. There are 21 county councils in each of Norway’s 21 counties, with 727 county councillors overall. As in many countries, local elections in smaller municipalities tend to be influenced by local issues, local partisan patterns and above all personal votes or local parties.
These elections are significant for Norway in that they come only a few months after the July 22 Utøya-Oslo massacre in which 77 people were killed and 96 injured, most of them (69) killed on the island of Utøya where members of the governing Labour Party’s (Ap) youth wing (AUF) were meeting. The attacks were perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik, a far-right activist who had previously been a member of the largest opposition party, the right-wing populist Progress Party (Frp).
The Progress Party, which won 22.9% in the 2009 legislative election, maintaining itself as the second largest party behind Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s governing Labour Party. The Frp’s status as the largest right-wing party has been a major headache from Norway’s divided right as it sought to regain power it last held between 2001 and 2005. The populist right-wing Frp is not shunned out entirely, but it is a controversial party and two small right-wing parties, the Christian Democrats (KrF) and the Liberals (V) have refused to participate in a government in which Frp also participates. Unlike between 2001 and 2005, when Frp propped up the right-wing Bondevik government from the outside, the party now refuses to support any government of which it is not itself party. Only the Conservatives, the second-largest right-wing party in the Storting with 30 seats to Frp’s 41, have been more amenable to the idea of Frp participation in government, if only because they realize that they would need the Frp’s support in order to govern themselves. However, since 2009, Frp has been increasingly shaken in its position as the main right-wing opposition. The Conservatives continued their little surge of sorts, moving from 17% in 2009 to 25-30%. At first this surge was mostly at the Ap’s expense, not at Frp’s expense as they maintained their strong 2009 levels (and beyond) in 2010. However, since the spring, the Frp has been significantly and negatively affected by a major sex scandal which has embroiled Frp rising star and Stavanger mayoral candidate Trond Birkedal. Birkedal has been accused of sexual relations with underage boys and filming sex scenes with young party members. Frp leader Siv Jensen’s response was tepid and weak. Then the July shootings threw a cold shower on the Frp, which, though it condemned Breivik, could not escape a sense of popular rejection of far-right and right-wing populist theses in general after Breivik’s atrocities. The attacks, well handled by the government, gave the Ap a significant boost in polls (up to 40% in polls for the next general election) though it has petered out somewhat since then.
Labour Party (Ap) 31.7% (+2%) winning 3,381 seats (+85)
Conservative Party (H) 28% (+8.7%) winning 2,352 seats (+730)
Progress Party (Frp) 11.4% (-6.1%) winning 1,141 seats (-483)
Center Party (Sp) 6.8% (-1.2%) winning 1,419 seats (-171)
Liberal Party (V) 6.3% (+0.5%) winning 639 seats (+79)
Christian People’s Party (KrF) 5.6% (-0.7%) winning 652 seats (-125)
Socialist Left (SV) 4.1% (-2%) winning 361 seats (-193)
Red 1.5% (-0.2%) winning 57 seats (-9)
Others 4.8% (+0.9%)
County Council elections
Labour Party (Ap) 33.2% (+2.4%) winning 273 seats (+19)
Conservative Party (H) 27.6% (+8.9%) winning 210 seats (+74)
Progress Party (Frp) 11.8% (-6.8%) winning 96 seats (-54)
Center Party (Sp) 6.3% (-1.6%) winning 61 seats (-12)
Christian People’s Party (KrF) 5.8% (-0.9%) winning 47 seats (-9)
Liberal Party (V) 5.7% (+0.1%) winning 46 seats (+4)
Socialist Left (SV) 4.3% (-2.2%) winning 34 seats (-18)
Red 1.7% (-0.3%) winning 7 seats (-4)
Others 3.6% (+0.9%) winning 13 seats (nc) [3 Coast, 3 Pensioners, 3 Sunnmørslista, 2 Greens, 1 Democrat, 1 Sami]
The biggest loser in these election was the populist Progress Party (Frp), which lost nearly 7% of its vote compared to the last local elections in 2007 and over 11% to the 2009 parliamentary elections. The elections came at a very bad moment for Frp. The year started badly for them with the Birkedal sex scandal, worsened when Siv Jensen broke her back and was rushed to the hospital, became chaotic when Oslo mayoral candidate and former longtime Frp leader Carl I. Hagen clamored for a larger role in the campaign and was terribly capped off with the July 22 attacks. Things couldn’t have gone worse for the party, which was embroiled in scandal and whose cacophonous campaign projected a very bad image of the party. Frp won its worst result in a local election since 1995. Most of Frp’s voters went over to the Conservatives, who gained nearly 9% compared to 2007 (and 10% compared to 2010). The Conservatives were the big winners of the elections, winning their best local result since 1979. The results place the Conservatives in a strong position ahead of the 2013 general elections. Firstly, the overall right-wing parties (even if they don’t get along) outnumber the governing parties (Ap, Sp, SV) in votes and a Storting seat projection based on the county results. Secondly, with the Conservatives a clear second ahead of Frp, it renders the question of coalition formation easier. They now have a clear and unambiguous claim on the Prime Ministership, unlike in 2007. While Frp remains key to any right-wing government and Frp still says it will not support a government if it does not participate in it, the fact that they’re much weaker now makes the tortuous process of a potential right-wing coalition after 2013 slightly easier though obviously not a certainty – especially when you consider how centre-right parties like the Liberals are so dead-set against the Frp’s participation in anything. The Liberals did quite well, while the KrF’s performance was mediocre though still a bit over their 2009 results.
The governing Labour Party had been expected to lose steam in the local elections before the July attacks, but it improved its overall position by roughly 2%, which can likely be attributed to a boost in the popularity of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in the wake of his handling of the July 22 attack. While Ap’s showing in these elections is 2% below its 2009 result, the Ap tends to perform slightly better in Storting elections than in local elections. This is a very good mid-term election result for a governing party, and Ap’s best local showing since the 1987 local elections. It is a particularly strong result when one considers how the government had grown unpopular prior to July due to various blunders and unpopular policy decisions notably over local hospital closures and restructuring (a particularly important issue in local elections). What might be cause for concern for Ap, however, are the loses incurred by both of Labour’s governing partners: the agrarian Centrists (Sp) and the Socialist Left (SV). SV’s continued decrepitude is particularly noteworthy. It had done abnormally well in the 2003 local elections (13%), so its result in 2007 (6.5%) was more of a return to normality than anything else, but their slow decline continued this year and SV won its poorest results since 1979. SV might be suffering from a perceived ‘moderation’ of the party as it is perceived by its more left-wing members of having moved slightly to the right, notably supporting the Libyan intervention. It also suffered from Ap’s strong showing.
A Storting-2013 projection based on county council results give the right 88 seats to the government’s 81. Ap would win 63 (-1), the Conservatives 49 (+19), Frp 20 (-21), Sp 11, KrF 10, V 9 (+7) and SV 7 (-4).
Oslo municipal elections
Conservative Party (H) 35.8% (+10.5%) winning 22 seats (+6)
Labour Party (Ap) 33.2% (+3.4%) winning 20 seats (+2)
Liberal Party (V) 8.2% (-0.6%) winning 5 seats (nc)
Progress Party (Frp) 7% (-7.3%) winning 4 seats (-5)
Socialist Left (SV) 6.3% (-4.2%) winning 4 seats (-2)
Red 3.6% (-1.6%) winning 2 seats (-1)
Environment Party-The Greens 2.5% (+1.8%) winning 1 seat (+1)
Christian People’s Party (KrF) 2.4% (-0.6%) winning 1 seat (-1)
Center Party (Sp) 0.5% (-0.3%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Oslo, the Norwegian capital, has been governed by the right since 1995 though Labour was the biggest party in the last two local elections. Though the former longtime leader of the Progress Party, Carl I. Hagen was the Frp’s mayoral candidate, Frp did extremely poorly winning its worst result since 1979 (when Frp was joke party). The Conservatives led by incumbent mayor Fabian Stang were reelected. SV did very poorly in Oslo as well, which is one of the party’s strongholds. Its result is indeed a far cry from 2003, when it won 20.3% to Labour’s 25%.
Other municipal and county results
- Bergen: H 24 (+6), Ap 19 (+3), Frp 7 (-7), V 5 (+1), KrF 4 (nc), SV 3 (-2), R 2 (-1), Greens 1 (+1), Sp 1 (-1), BYLUFT 1 (+1)
- Trondheim: Ap 27 (-10), H 18 (+5), Frp 6 (-7), V 4 (+1), SV 4 (-3), R 2 (-1), KrF 2 (-1), Greens 2 (nc), Sp 1 (-1)
- Stavanger: H 23 (nc), Ap 19 (+4), Frp 9 (-2), V 5 (-1), KrF 4 (-1), SV 3 (-1), PP 1 (nc), Sp 1 (nc), R 1 (nc), Greens 1 (+1)
- Bærum: H 27 (+6), Ap 11 (+1), V 5 (-1), Frp 4 (-4), SV 2 (-1), KrF 1 (nc), PP 1 (nc)
- Kristiansand: H 14 (+3), Ap 14 (+3), KrF 9 (-1), Frp 6 (-3), V 3 (+1), DEM 2 (+2), PP 2 (-1), SV 1 (-1), Green 1 (nc), R 1 (nc)
- Fredrikstad: Ap 26 (+8), H 11 (+4), Frp 7 (-10), KrF 2 (-1), SV 2 (nc), V 2 (nc), Sp 1 (nc), PP 1 (nc), BYMILJØ 1 (nc)
- Tromsø: H 16 (+11), Ap 11 (-6), Frp 6 (-3), R 3 (-1), SV 2 (-1), V 2 (nc), KrF 1 (-1), Sp 1 (nc), Greens 1 (nc)
Outside Oslo, four of Norway’s five largest cities (excluding Oslo) will be governed by the Conservatives. In Bergen, where the incumbent mayor is Frp’s Gunnar Bakke, he will be replaced by a Conservative (Monica Mæland). In Norway’s second largest city, the Conservatives won 24 seats (up 6) and 35.2% of the vote, while Labour won 19 seats (up 3) and 28.7% of the vote. Mayor Bakke’s Frp won 10.3% and 7 seats. Bergen has been governed by the right since 2000.
In Trondheim, Labour lost 1o seats but with 27 seats and 39.5% it remains the largest party. The Conservatives picked up 5 seats and over 12% of the vote to win 18 seats and 27%. The Frp lost 7 seats, winning 6 and 8.9% of the vote. Trondheim has been governed by the left since 2003.
In Stavanger, the oil capital of Norway, the right held on but did surprisingly badly – probably some local factor at work. The Conservatives also lost 0.3% of the vote, while Labour increased its vote to 29%, up 7%. Frp won 13%, down only 2%.
Bærum, Norway’s fifth largest city and also the wealthiest municipality in Norway, was predictably a Conservative landslide. The Conservatives have held this posh Oslo suburb since the 1950s at least. They won 51%, up 11%.
The Conservatives also won in Kristiansand, the capital of Vest-Agder, Drammen and Asker. The largest city in Norway to actually change hands was Fredrikstad in Østfold, an old working-class city which was governed up to this point by the Progress Party which had benefited significantly from industrial decline to win 31% of the vote here in 2007. Labour won 49%, up a full 16%. Frp won only 13.9%, collapsing 17 points. I suppose Fredrikstad’s gain will compensate for a Labour defeat in Tromsø, where the Conservatives did very well – gaining a full 24% of the vote to win 36% and 16 seats (+11), while Labour lost 6 seats and 13%.
In county elections, it seems as if the overall right won 9 to the left’s 9 (10-9 for the right if you include Oslo, which is both a municipality and a county). The right emerged as the largest block in Troms, but lost that advantage in Østfold. The Conservatives are now the largest right-wing party in all counties, including the 9 where the right has a majority and could form government. In 2007, the Conservatives were the largest party in only four of the 9 right-wing counties (Frp in 4, KrF in one). Similarly, the Centre Party narrowly lost largest party status in its Sogn og Fjordane bastion.
Norwegian politics interest me a lot, but I cannot go on with details about such stuff. Keeping with the greatness of Scandinavia and Norway, the NRK election results website is absolutely stunning and fantastic. It also has an updated map of which party will hold which town halls.