Norway: Challenges abound for new GovernmentThe Socialist Left party, which started its election campaigns in the Pakistani countryside and thinks that the USA is the greatest threat to world peace (one of its members has suggested giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Cuba's Fidel Castro), will now be part of our cabinet:
Challenges abound for Jens
Jens Stoltenberg and his new government partners, the Center Party and the Socialist Left, have a long list of issues to resolve in order to put forward a united front as a ruling government coalition. They've already agreed to disagree on whether Norway should join the European Union. Stoltenberg and his Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet) have some clear advantages, however. They will lead the coalition from a position of relative strength, after winning more than 60 seats in Parliament and 32.7 percent of the vote. That indicates that Labour, which started adopting a more moderate brand of politics in the 1990s, likely won't be making any major radical turns, even though it will be cooperating with the Socialist Left (SV), known for a much more left-wing brand of socialist politics. SV, however, was relatively battered at the polls and heads into a government coalition with just 8.7 percent of voter support and a major loss of seats in Parliament.
Hagen savours major victory
Carl I Hagen has for years been the proverbial Rodney Dangerfield of Norwegian politics, never getting any respect. Now, with 22.1 percent of the vote and a big increase in parliamentary representation, he expects that to change. Hagen took the stage at his party's election watch meeting Monday night to the tunes of "We are the champions," clearly relishing the biggest victory his relatively right-wing Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) has ever scored with liberal Norwegian voters. He warmly thanked his supporters for making the Progress Party "the leading opposition party" in Parliament and "the biggest non-socialist party" of them all.
Norway's Red-Green alliance set to oust government
Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik said he did "not have a good answer" as to why Norwegians ditched him during an economic boom and after U.N. surveys rated Norway the best country in the world in which to live every year since he took power in 2001. Norway is the third largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and Russia, making its 4.6 million people among the wealthiest in the world. Carl Hagen said that he expected his party to lead the opposition in the next four years. Elsewhere in Scandinavia, the Danish People's Party has pushed through tighter laws for asylum seekers and immigrants. "You have laid the basis for a new dream, that the Progress Party will be what the Labour Party was in the previous century," Hagen told jubilant supporters. Hassan Abdillahi, a 41-year-old of Somali origin, was happy that the center left looked like defeating the right and keeping Hagen away from power. Its allies in government would be the rural Center Party and the Socialist Left, which calls the United States the "greatest threat to world peace" and is against Norway's NATO membership.