Coalition talks begin in Norway after PM's election defeat

Three parties looking to reach a compromise on energy policy

Jonas Gahr Stoere, the man expected to become Norway's next prime minister. NTB/AP
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Norway’s political leaders have opened talks on a new left-leaning coalition government after a general election swept aside the previous administration.

Jonas Gahr Stoere, who is set to become the next prime minister, is expected to try to build a three-party coalition between his Labour Party, the Centre Party and Socialist Left.

The three parties together won an absolute majority with at least 89 of 169 seats in Norway's Parliament, four more than needed.

“There is more that unites us than divides us,” Mr Stoere said outside his home in Oslo on Tuesday.

The outgoing assembly was 88-81 and led by centre-right Erna Solberg, who was ousted as prime minister after two four-year terms in the job. Her party also suffered a huge loss of nine seats.

Mr Stoere must persuade the others to find a compromise on energy policy, including where to allow exploration while also reducing emissions.

“The likely compromise has to do with restricting exploration and the less explored and matured areas are easier to stop exploration in,” said Baard Lahn, a researcher at climate think tank Cicero in Oslo.

Erna Solberg was ousted as Norway's prime minister. NTB/AP

“Also the industry has indicated they are less interested in those areas at the moment. That's a possible outcome, but exactly what that will look like, there are many possibilities.”

One of the telling campaign issues was the North Sea oil and gas reserves that has helped make Norway one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

Fears about climate change have placed the future of the industry in doubt and Norwegians are among the planet’s most climate-conscious consumers.

But oil is still its biggest industry, responsible for more than 40 per cent of exports and directly employing more than 5 per cent of the workforce.

Most of Norway’s oil and gas still comes from mature areas in the North Sea, but much of the country’s untapped reserves are in the Barents Sea, which as part of the Arctic Ocean is a red line for environmentalists.

Updated: September 14, 2021, 4:48 PM