STOCKHOLM (AP) — The center-right grouping that has governed Norway the past four years retained a narrow hold on power in national elections, according to near-complete results early Tuesday.
With 95 percent of the votes counted, Prime Minister Erna Solberg's Conservatives, coalition partner the Progress Party and two support parties, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats, looked likely to win a total of 89 seats in the 169-seat parliament, the Storting.
The election was a bitter disappointment for the leftist Labor Party. It remains the largest single party in parliament with 49 seats, but other likely coalition partners or support parties didn't add enough to put the left in power.
There was no immediate announcement about forming a new government, but the four-party center-right alliance appeared almost certain to continue.
"We delivered on what we promised," Solberg said at party headquarters. "It seems that there will be a clear non-socialist majority in this election."
Labor leader Jonas Gahr Store was chastened. "As it seems now, it just did not happen," he said, according to the Norwegian news agency NTB.
Although the center-right grouping had steered Norway through crises over a sharp influx of migrants and the decline in global prices for the oil and gas that are the backbone of the country's prosperity and comfort, some analysts were surprised that Labor lost significant ground. Its 49 seats were a loss of six from what it held in the previous parliament.
"Labor had a sensationally bad election. It is quite unusual for an opposition party to go back this way," NTB quoted political analyst Svein Erik Tuastad as saying.
The election was a contest over national values, including how welcoming the wealthy country should be to migrants and asylum-seekers and how close it should be to the European Union.
Many Norwegians see the Britain as a model for severing ties to the 28-nation EU. Although not a member, Norway has access to the EU's single market of a half billion people, accepts the free movement of EU workers, enacts reams of EU laws and pays a membership fee to do that.
The rural Center Party, which was the election's single biggest winner with a gain of 10 seats, has called for a public inquiry into the country's relationship with the EU.
But both Labor and the Conservatives are committed to the current arrangement. They also have ruled out ending oil and gas exploration — a demand of the Greens who remained static with a single seat.
Associated Press writer Jim Heintz reported this story from Moscow and AP writer David Keyton reported in Stockholm.