Norwegians begin voting in general election

Polls have shown Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's coalition neck-and-neck with a splintered centre-right opposition.

Norwegians begin voting in general election

Norwegians began voting Monday in a general election that polls have shown Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's coalition neck-and-neck with a splintered centre-right opposition.

A poll by Sentio published on Monday saw the government winning 88 seats in the 169-member parliament, increasing its majority by one seat compared with four years ago and becoming the first sitting cabinet in 16 years to win re-election.

The country's massive oil windfall has been kept at an arms-length distance from the economy to avoid overheating.

Voting stations opened at 9:00 am (0700 GMT), though 205 of the 430 municipalities had already opened on Sunday for practical reasons.

Voting ends at 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Monday, when exit polls will be published. Politicians will hold a special parliamentary session at 2200 GMT to discuss the election result.

If the government loses its majority, it is unclear what cabinet will emerge because the centre-right is fractured between three more centrist parties and the right-wing Progress Party.

Conservative leader Erna Solberg, seen as a potential prime minister, has said she would sit down for policy talks with all right-of-centre parties if the left lost its majority.

She also wants to launch a new debate over the merits of EU accession after Norway rejected membership twice, in 1972 and in 1994.


Agencies

Last Mod: 14 Eylül 2009, 16:28
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