Saturday , September 23 2017

Norway votes as PM hopes economic record will resonate

epa06197854 Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg casts her ballot at a polling station during general election in Bergen, Norway, 11 September 2017.  EPA-EFE/Marit Hommedal  NORWAY OUT


Norwegians started voting in what could be the closest parliamentary election in almost 20 years with Prime Minister Erna Solberg seeking to make history after spending a record amount of the country’s oil riches.
After saving the economy from a recession, with part of the cash coming from the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, Solberg and her coalition hope to become the first center-right government since World War II to serve two full consecutive terms. Final polls published ahead of Monday’s vote gave the ruling coalition just enough seats to secure a majority, with the opposition Labor Party struggling after losing support late in the campaign.
Casting her vote no Monday in her hometown of Bergen, Solberg told reporters that she “believes” and the polls show that there will be a center-right majority also after the vote. But it depends on “who has been able to mobilize their voters in the past 24 hours,” she said in a live broadcast.
Voting ends at 9 p.m., with exit polls expected immediately after. Ballots will then be counted at least once by hand as an extra security measure to ensure there are no doubts about results.
Political scientists following Scandinavia’s richest economy say the race is still too close to call. Much depends on whether the Christian Democrats and the Liberals, on which the Conservative-led government relies for support to stay in power, can overcome a 4 percent threshold necessary to be assigned so-called seats at large. The Christian Democrats and the Liberals had 4.4 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively, in Saturday’s Kantar TNS poll, which had a margin of error of 0.8-1.7 percentage points.

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