OSLO, Norway (AP) — Conservative Party leader Erna Solberg — nicknamed "Iron Erna" — will become Norway's new prime minister as the leader of a center-right coalition government likely including an anti-immigration party.
Preliminary results from the oil-rich Nordic country's parliamentary elections shows the Conservative Party got 26.8 percent of votes, the best result for the party in 28 years. Solberg, who will be Norway's second female prime minister after Gro Harlem Brundtland, thanked the voters Monday for a historic victory.
"The voters had the choice between 12 years of red-green government or a new government with new ideas and new solutions," Solberg said.
The current prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, who has led Norway for eight years, conceded defeat, saying his Labor Party tried "to do what almost no one has done, to win three elections in a row, but it turned out to be tough."
The discovery of oil and gas in Norway's waters in the 1960s turned the Scandinavian nation into one of the richest in the world, with a strong welfare system and a high living standard. The oil wealth helped it withstand Europe's financial crisis and retain low unemployment throughout Stoltenberg's years in power. Still, the Conservative Party has managed to attract votes amid pledges to increase the availability of private health care and cut taxes on assets over $140,000.
Frank Aarebrot, Professor of comparative politics at the University of Bergen, said the election campaign was dominated by classical welfare issues, such as better care for the elderly, improved hospitals and better schools.
Yet, none of the parties suggested that Norwegians should have to pay for things such as hospital visits, college education or elderly care.
"Everybody agrees that should be for free," he said.
The Conservative Party has said for the first time that it is prepared to form a coalition government with the anti-immigration Progress Party, which was the third biggest party in the election. Solberg will now likely begin negotiations with them, as well as with the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats.
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