Norway Labor Party heading for election victory

AP News
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Posted: Sep 12, 2011 5:06 PM
Norway Labor Party heading for election victory

Norway's ruling Labor Party appeared to be making sizable gains in municipal elections Monday, according to preliminary results, less than two months after a bombing and shooting massacre by a right-wing fanatic killed 77 people.

The country's national broadcaster, NRK said that based on preliminary results the Labor was leading with 33.1 percent of the votes, which would be the party's best local election in more than two decades.

The poll comes nearly two months after an anti-Muslim extremist, Anders Behring Breivik, slaughtered 69 people at a Labor Party youth camp and set off a car bomb outside government offices in the capital, which killed another eight people.

The 32-year-old Breivik has confessed to the killings but denies criminal responsibility, saying he's in a state of war against Norway's immigration policies, which he largely blames the Labor Party for.

Labor-leader, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, told a jubilant crowd minutes before polls closed that his party had won, irrespective of the election result.

"We have been victorious because we have risen up and finished the race," Stoltenberg said.

The prognosis, by national broadcaster NRK, gave Labor's traditional rival, the Conservative Party, 26.8 percent of the votes, putting them ahead of the right-wing Progressive Party, who had eclipsed the Conservatives in parliamentary elections two years ago.

Preliminary results showed a 66 percent turnout, the highest participation in any election since 1991.

All parties had agreed to hold short, low-key campaigns after the July terror attacks rocked the Scandinavian nation, a prosperous and generally tolerant society. Campaigning was postponed until mid-August.

The local elections _ for councils in 430 municipalities and 19 counties _ are not expected to have a major impact on government policy in the nation of 5 million, which enjoys the benefits of oil wealth, a thriving economy and cradle-to-grave social services.